The hard work of two years, one year in the undergraduate research project and another in the extension topics, culminated into me receiving this award, the Best Paper Award, during the Sustainable Built Environment 2016 Manila Conference, held in Acacia Hotel in Alabang, Muntinlupa. As Dr. Germar was announcing, word by word, the name of my topic as the recipient of the award, I was wondering: “Why my paper?” I honestly believed that the paper has to have faults somewhere. Even though my thesis received the “Best in Research Implementation” (the award that I never received personally) in the Structural Engineering Group in 2015 and was competed in the 2015 Undergraduate Project Competition of the UP College of Engineering, I believed that the accuracy and the consistency of the results with the evidences was just a fluke. I stood up and walked towards the stage. My paranoia strikes again with me thinking that this is just a prank being played on me. I looked back to my adviser with a “I’m screwed” look. I don’t have the confidence to stand before the limelight. I was just used to be in the shadows, with no one noticing me as I lost sight of myself long ago. I have indeed buried my self-esteem and self-confidence in place of that girl’s self-esteem. Yet, I was thanking her for the good times that we’ve had and for being my virtual strength in my thesis manuscript.
I tried convincing myself that the work that I’ve done, this time unlike my passion in establishing and stabilizing the student organizations that I’ve founded, returned good rewards. That research gave me experience in presenting before members of the International Academe and stakeholders for big-time companies. That research helped me earned a US Visa so easily. That research took me to San Francisco, Minneapolis, Boston, Vancouver, and New York. My experience during my research days mitigated most of my stuttering. That research took me into the premier league of wind engineers around the globe. And now, that research will be taking me once more before global stakeholders, professionals, and scientists, in another international conference for it was said that the award also entailed another opportunity to present it in the SB Global Conference in Hong Kong.
I finally mustered my courage when I thought that this honor was not for myself alone, but to those who helped and supported me along the way: To my parents, Irene and Manuel Agar, who made the field survey possible in the first place. To Marlon Castil for letting me stay in their abode and for assisting and guiding me during the filed survey. To Chief Marianito Macasa of Guiuan Station who led those brave souls who stayed to collect vital data during the full brunt of the storm’s wind, for offering his full assistance in my study. To Sir Rex Abdon Jr. and the Climate Data Section of PAGASA for assisting with and providing the weather data from all weather stations in the Philippines. To the Advanced Science and Technology Institute for the data from the automated stations. To my advisers, Dr. Jaime Y. Hernandez Jr. and Engr. William L. Mata, for helping and supporting me to further my research. And finally to the Warays in the affected areas, who were very accommodating, and gazed me with eyes that communicate their hope to me. I remember writing this on my manuscript:
“That was why when the topic sprouted like a mushroom, I immediately took and swallow it even though it has a high risk of being poisonous, and even though it would be poisonous, I would be of no regret, if I can at least tell those bereaved, who are still confused on how strong Haiyan was in the middle of the discrepancies of the released weather bulletins around the globe, of how strong those winds really are. It will be like telling the mothers who lost sons on the war on what kind of death their sons suffered, for them to find inner peace on the why’s, just like me finding inner peace on this pursuit of knowledge. “
I suggested design wind speeds of 400 kph, and the engineers present were in an uproar. The representative from the Lopez group consulted me regarding the design wind speed. The decision entails whether another 4-billion pesos would be spent to cater the high winds that I forecasted. I was flustered by the question, therefore I wasn’t able to provide an answer. Through a baptism by fire (of stakeholders’ reaction to my recommendations), I started to be a wind engineer.
The honor is a tiny reward. Fulfilling the great responsibility of this work as a service for the people is the food for the soul. I still have tons of work to do then. I still have long ways to go. I have yet to prove myself. I’ll keep on working, until I see for myself that I have indeed reach great heights. If this is the path that I really intended to take…