USC Chem Hosts Security and Safety Workshop

In an effort to engage universities to adopt flexible best practices in campus emergency preparedness, sixteen chemistry practitioners from Mindanao higher educational institutions along with eight University of San Carlos (USC) participants attended the Workshop on Security and Safety in Universities from January 17–20, 2017 held at the Josef Baumgartner Learning Resource Center-Virtual Training Room (JB LRC-VTR) in Talamban Campus, Nasipit, Cebu City.

Under the leadership of chair Eugene T. Bacolod, Ph.D., the USC Department of Chemistry hosted the workshop, which was organized by the International Biological and Chemical Threat Reduction (IBCTR) program of Sandia National Laboratories based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A.

Former American Chemical Society president Nancy B. Jackson, Ph.D., from Sandia’s IBCTR program, and USC chemistry professor Patrick John Y. Lim, Ph.D. served as trainers for the three-and-a-half day workshop. Sandia logistical analyst Bernadette Garcia de Rodriguez accompanied Dr. Jackson and handled the arrangements for the Mindanao participants.

Participants and organizers of the security and safety workshop

Participants to the workshop included one dean and four chairs of departments from seven HEIs in Mindanao, namely Agnes T. Aranas (Ateneo de Davao University), Cellyn A. Verallo (Ateneo de Zamboanga University), Julius O. Campecino, Maria Cristina A. Dancel, Ellen dV. Inutan, Joel H. Jorolan, Rachel Anne E. Lagunay, Myrna S. Mahinay, Joanna Kristine E. Pancho, Lunesa C. Pinzon (all from Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology), Grace Prado (MSU-Naawan), Maria Cleofe N. Badang (University of Immaculate Conception), Girlie D. Leopoldo and Rengel Cane E. Sia (University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines), and Heide R. Rabanes and Aileen B. Angcajas (Xavier University).

Participants from USC included Rolly Viesca (Biology), Leonila N. Adarna, Jinky Y. Derla, Sharajen A. Julasiri, Gail Jeremias B. Posas (all from Chemistry), Nikki Marie O. Marquez and Marie Kristie B. Reyes (Water Laboratory), and Talamban Campus Pollution Control Officer Esmeralda S. Cuizon.

The workshop covered security and safety issues including international and national regulations, dual-use chemicals, risk assessment, physical security of chemicals, chemical management and inventory, formulation of standard operating procedures, personal protective equipment, fire protection and prevention, and a security by design module which featured a laboratory design exercise.

Fred Reyes: Democratizing the Beauty Industry

Article originally posted on the Philippine Star.

Fred Reyes


Today, the number of beauty clinics is rising rapidly as demand continues to grow from the increasing group of Filipino women (and men) willing to spend more on beauty products and services.

Businesses are scrambling to outdo each other to prove which is better and more effective than the other.

But Fred Reyes has a simple solution: “to offer premium, advanced products and services at affordable prices.”

SkinStation, according to Reyes, is positioned as a clinical grade product and clinic line, which offers world-class products and services at a reasonable price.

Its strategy is to explore and research the most recent trends and innovations in the global beauty industry and develop them into products that fit the local market.

A strong foundation in Chemistry and business

Reyes may be a businessman now, but he never failed to apply his background in Chemistry to bring all his business endeavors to success.

He was a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman.

“I became a chemist because of my high school teacher. She praised me so much in front of the class and I realized, it looks like I’m good at Chemistry,” Reyes recalled.

“So, not knowing that it was one of the avoided subjects in UP, I enrolled in BS Chemistry. When I went in, I found out all my teachers were ‘terror’ professors,” he added with mirth.

But Reyes said he persevered due to his love for the subject and his dream to become a “mad scientist.”

Right after graduating, Reyes said he decided to enter the corporate world because he saw an opportunity to earn big in this sector.

He worked for seven years at Union Carbide (Philippines) Inc., which back then was one of the largest chemical companies in the world.

“When I was with Union Carbide I wasn’t thinking of going into business. We were so pampered. I had a very good assignment and I was going all over Asia,” Reyes said.

He even took up a master’s course in Business, also in UP, while working for the company in order to rise up the corporate ladder. That was where he met his wife, Maria Carleen Reyes, who was taking up a Nursing course.

However, a crisis hit the company back in 1984 due to an accident in Union Carbide’s plant in Bhopal India. The incident caused a leakage of highly toxic and poisonous gases into the surrounding areas. Union Carbide was eventually sold, so employees like Reyes had to explore other alternatives.

His wife, Carleen, went to New York to work as a nurse, while Fred decided to go back to the Philippines to test the waters and put up his company, ChemWorld Marketing Corp. in 1985.

“It was a problem that became an opportunity,” he said.

The evolution of SkinStation

Eventually, Reyes’ company, ChemWorld, became a big distributor of specialty ingredients of personal care products to some of the biggest local and multinational companies in the country.

It also grew into a multidivision company. One of its units is ChemWorld Fragrance Factory, a supplier of oil and fragrances sourced mainly from Europe. It is popular especially for people who want to create their own scents or start a small perfume business.

“We were not just offering ingredients, we’re also offering product concepts, what’s happening outside, in first world countries, we bring it here. I observed that it was in the skin care industry where there’s a lot more innovation going on,” Reyes said.

Having realized this, Reyes decided to branch out into the skin care industry by putting up a new product line and clinic in 1997.

This company offered natural skin care products, with formulations containing licorice extract which back then cost P1 million per kilo.

“We had this natural ingredient, which we found to be very effective and safe at the time when the gold standard in skin whitening was hydroquinone, which is unsafe. But nobody wanted to buy from us because it’s so expensive. At that time, hydroquinone was selling for P350, we were selling the licrorice extract for whitening for P1 million,” Reyes said.

“That’s how it started. Because nobody wanted to buy licorice extract, we started the company, using licorice as the backbone of the formulations,” he added.

However, this company was eventually sold to another corporation, and only its clinic segment remained with Reyes.

In 2010, Reyes and his family started to build something new from the remains of their previous endeavor. They put up the My Sanctuary Wellness Center Inc., the holding company of SkinStation.

Innovative skin care products

According to Reyes, what sets SkinStation apart from its competitors, is that it’s always at the top of the new trends and innovations in skin care technology.

“Whatever is out there, we know. And we continuously introduce these concepts to the Philippine market,” Reyes said.

“Many of these are very advanced that most companies in the Philippines wouldn’t use them because their perception is that there’s not enough market for such high-end products,” he went on.

“But since SkinStation is being positioned for advanced clinical grade skincare, we are able to utilize these new concepts immediately and be the first to introduce these innovative concepts in the local market.”

In fact, SkinStation was the first brand to introduce to the Philippines the application of the nanoencapsulation technology to beauty products.

Reyes explained this technology encapsulates the molecules of active ingredients to make them resilient to stressors, such as water, air and heat, therefore prolonging the efficacy of the skin care products.

It also collapses the molecules into a size “as big as a virus” to make it easier for the active ingredients to penetrate the dermal layer of the skin.

The company uses this technology for its exclusive product line, Dermax Professional.

But nanoencapsulation technology is only one of the many innovations that Reyes brought into the local market. Its products also feature the latest breakthroughs available in the market.

SkinStation was the first in the Philippines to introduce the “waterburst” technology in its new line of sunscreen and BB cream.

A multi-awarded chemist

Reyes’ works in Chemistry and the advancements he introduced to the local skin care business have been recognized by his peers in the industry.

He was awarded the 2008 Achievement Award by the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Societies and the 2011 Outstanding Professional Award in Chemistry by the Professional Regulations Commission.

Reyes’ two eldest kids, Gerard Cedric and Francis Carl are already involved in running the company, while the youngest has already expressed interest in the business.

According to Reyes, the wide network of SkinStation is a testament to the company’s success in achieving its vision to bring high-end and premium products and services to the local market.

“We aim to be number 1, the undisputed number 1,” he said.

Reyes vowed to continue to be on the lookout for new technology and products in the global beauty industry.

“That has been our strategy, always. Because we want Filipinos to experience high-end and premium services and products which are normally beyond their reach,” he said.

Not a Waste of Time: Lecture-Workshop on Practical Solutions to Chemical Wastes Successfully Held


Around one-hundred representatives from the academe, government, and industry sectors attended the two-day lecture-workshop on Practical and Cost Effective Solutions to Laboratory Chemical Wastes, sponsored by the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines (ICP) on 18-19 October at the Manila Elks Lodge in Makati City. A variety of resource speakers specializing in chemical waste management shared their knowledge to the participants. Dr. Fabian Dayrit (President, ICP) welcomed the participants. Dr. Glenn Alea (VP-Internals, ICP) served as the moderator for the event.

Engineer Gerry Sañez, head of the Hazardous Waste Bureau of the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, kickstarted the series of seminars on the first day. he discussed the Revised Procedures and Standards for the Management of Hazardous Wastes and how this affects laboratory waste management. Meanwhile, Dr. Veronica Migo, head of the Central Analytical Services Laboratory at BIOTECH in UP Los Baños discussed ways on classifying chemical wastes. The next three seminars on Management of Chemical Wastes and discussion of best practices were devoted for each sector: Dr. Allan Yago (pollution officer, Institute of Chemistry, UP Diliman) for the academe teaching laboratory, Ms. Edna Mijares (CEO and President, Jefcor Laboratories) for the research and analytical laboratory, and Ms. Gretchen Fontejon-Enarle (President of SPIK and PCO of Pacific Paint Boysen) for the industrial laboratory.

On the second day, Dr. Louernie de Sales, an industry expert, enthusiastically discussed the storage, transport, and disposal of wastes from a treater’s perspective. Afterwards, the participants were grouped together to collaborate on planning their own approaches on chemical waste management for their respective institutions, moderated by Ms. Mutya Samonte (Public Information Officer, ICP). Each group was then allotted ample time to present their output to everyone.

Ms. Mutya Samonte moderating the collaboration portion of the workshop

The two-day lecture-workshop ended with the participants properly armed with the know-how on dealing with their chemical wastes. ICP VP-Externals Ms. Edna Mijares gave the closing remarks, thanking the attendees for their participation and inviting them for future ICP events.

Teacher Vivian and Her Kit That Detects Cassava Cyanide

This article is originally posted on the Cebu Daily News website, and is written by Cris Evert Lato.

Dr. Vivian Topor developed the Cassava Cyanide Color Wheel Kit as an easy-to-use product to help farmers identify the level of cyanide content in cassava which lessens cases of cyanide poisoning from cassava consumption.


In 2015, Dr. Vivian Azucena-Topor heard the news that 31 students from Suclaran National High School in Guimaras fell ill after eating cassava cake.

The Ilongga chemistry professor of the University of the Philippines–Visayas (UPV) in Miag-ao, Iloilo, who selected “molecular studies on cassava” as her dissertation, was alarmed by the news.

“I had to do something to educate people so we can avoid cases of cyanide poisoning from cassava consumption,” said Topor, who is also the director of the Graduate Program Office at the UPV campus in Iloilo City.

Her commitment was translated into the “Cassava Cyanide Color Wheel Kit,” a simple and easy-to-use product which can be used by technicians and farmers in the field to check cyanide content of cassava variants.

Her invention of the kit earned Topor a place in the 2016 roster of honorees of an advocacy campaign, The Many Faces of the Teacher (TMFT), run by Bato Balani Foundation Inc. and Diwa Learning Systems. Topor, described as a community biochemist, was one of four teachers from among a dozen finalists nationwide who were honored at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino on Oct. 1 during an annual awarding event leading to the celebration of the Teachers’ Day on Oct. 5.

To use Tobor’s poison-detecting kit, a 100-mg cassava sample is placed inside a flat-bottom vial and is mixed with phosphate buffer solution. A peak rate paper is then introduced to the vial and is allowed to sit for 16 hours. The color of the paper changes.

Farmers can analyze the result using the color wheel where the darker color indicates higher percentage of cyanide. Topor drew inspiration from a testing kit sent to her from Australia.

“But I thought that we cannot always ask other countries every time we need something. If we can innovate, why not?” she said.


Cassava earned the reputation of being a dangerous root crop after a 2005 incident in Mabini, Bohol, claimed the lives of 30 children.

But Topor was quick to note that not all cassava variants are harmful to humans.

She said there are variants with higher cyanide percentage, which are used for making alcohol and starch, but there are variants fit for human consumption.

“People need to be educated about the nature of cassava to eliminate the fear of this root crop,” she said. Topor said cyanide is released by a cassava plant to protect itself from predators.

Industry standards note that variants with zero to 50 parts per million (ppm) are considered nontoxic variants. Between 50 to 100 ppm is moderately toxic while 100 and above is dangerously toxic.

This does not mean, however, that raw cassava with 150 ppm cannot be consumed.


But there are several ways to significantly bring down the cyanide levels in cassava.

When cooking cassava, Topor said the root crop should be peeled and cut in small pieces. When boiling cassava, do not put a lid over the pot.

“Cyanide is volatile, and it can escape at 26 degrees Celsius,” she said.

Topor said cassava is the kind of root crop that is not best eaten “fresh” or when just newly harvested.

She advised waiting two to three days before cooking the root crop as a freshly harvested cassava has higher cyanide content.

Married to African national Wollor Topor (also a professor who is a dean of a university in Liberia) who considers cassava as a staple food, Topor said she has learned to appreciate different ways on how cassava is prepared.

One of these products is gari, which is made from grated raw cassava.

At home, Topor said, the grated cassava is placed in a jute sack. The sack is tied and is left to ferment for three to seven days. The process helps reduce and detoxify the cyanide content of cassava.


Topor hoped that the education seminars she conducts would encourage farmers to plant more cassava especially that the DA is providing them with planting materials.

“I met many farmers who want to regain their productivity, but they just don’t know what to do,” she said.

Topor donated the first batch of kits to the Suclaran Barangay Council, fulfilling her promise to contribute to community education on food safety.

But Topor did not just stop here.

She built alliances and partnerships with the local government units and the Department of Agriculture so she can educate people about cassava in the Western Visayas region.

“My recommendation is to immediately spot-check the backyard farms planting cassava. Using the kits, we can immediately identify which variants produce higher levels of cyanide. If this is the case, the LGU can urge the farmers to replace the crop,” said Topor.

2016 Chemist Licensure Examination: Results

Please click on a link below to view the respective file:

Official Announcement from the PRC

2016 Topnotchers

2016 List of Successful Examinees

2016 Performance of Schools

Examinees qualified for registration as Chemical Technicians


For successful examinees, you may download the official invitation of the ICP to the Oath-Taking Ceremony by clicking on this link. Other pertinent information are also found in the said file.

The Oath-Taking Ceremony for successful examinees will be held on November 4 (Friday), 1PM at the Manila Hotel. Pre-registration for the said event is required. Please click on this link for more details.

Congratulations to this year’s board-passers, and welcome to the chemistry profession!