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Dr. Erlinda L. Mari

Dr. Erlinda L. Mari

Dr. Mari, who has fondness for nature dedicates her expertise to environmentally sound projects, such as wastewater management and paper recycling projects. A chemical engineering graduate, Dr. Mari specialized and came to be recognized in the use of paper mill sludge in asphalt roads. She was conferred a Scientist I rank in 1998.

QUESTION: What motivated you to take this path,becoming a scientist? (Did you stumble into it quite by accident or was it the fulfilling-a-childhood dream kind of thing)

ANSWER: I don't have a definite plan in life. As a child, the common ambition then was to become a doctor, a teacher but for me, I wanted more to be a doctor. However, it was not an intense desire or wish because we were a poor family. I just went on with life. My father was Grade 1 undergraduate and my mother was Grade 4 undergraduate. Their ultimate goal in life was for us to be educated. During my student years, my dream was to lift my parents from hard labor. I wanted them to live a comfortable life in the province. This was my single dream to show my utmost respect and love for my parents. It was not really my desire to become a scientist. I was just following what God has planned for me. Basically,I love nature and all natural things. So, when we had a field trip during my high school days here in Los Banos, here at forestry, I was fascinated. I had a wishful thinking then, I said: Sana dito ako magkatrabaho. So when I graduated, I think it was all in God's plan; may kapitbahay kami na nag-offer na magtrabaho dito. When I applied for the scientist position, our family actually had a financial need and I had this dilemma on where my career was going. At the time, it was very difficult to be promoted [in the agency]. In essence it was for financial and career fulfillment.

QUESTION: What is your favorite aspect of being a scientist?

ANSWER:I took Chemical Engineering at the National University. When asked why ChemEng? Because somebody said it's good so I took it. That's how simple I am. Then, why I do research? It's because of my love of nature. I have loved science ever since. And I got to do the thing I love. Since high school, nakatadhana na pala sakin ito. FPRDI is my first and last job. Forestry is my first love.

QUESTION: Aside from the sciences, what is the next thing that you are passionate about? (for some it's playing the violin, mountain climbing, or pets etc.)

ANSWER:No other activities. In the past I play bowling and gardening but now due to age, medyo masasakit na braso ko. So now I do a lot of house cleaning.Every weekend, we go to the province and take care of our coconut and citrus farm. It is what my parents left us and I'm the only one to continue what they left. Also, it generates additional income and we get to help our relatives in terms of employment. And when I retire I'll have an activity, business na productive and will generate employment. Sunday is non-negotiable, it is for church services.

QUESTION: With all that you have accomplished so far, is there anything else, whether related to science or not, that you'd like to do?

ANSWER: If possible, I want to be involved in teaching and guiding students in their school R&D. I want to help students in research. As I see it, the way they attack research ay hindi properly guided. So somehow, I want to teach or become a research adviser.

QUESTION: What advice can you give to our young people of today, to those who dream of becoming scientists one day and those who are still undecided over where to go?

ANSWER: Be sensitive and observant sa mga nangyayari sa paligid. For example, during Pinatubo explosion, when I saw the ashes my first thinking was anong pede kong gawin dito. Life now is a matter of adaptation. You don't complain; You work. And discern needs versus wants, kasi dun tayo madidistract. And lastly, keep your values and don't get involved in politics (sumipsip). Life is simple. Politics is complicated when you get involved; the tendency is you cannot distinguish between your wants and your needs.

Interviewed by: Arjay Escondo