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    by Mary Faith Carmel Gargoles, BSED-Biological Sciences - 4

    Posted on 2018-09-17 10:44:40

    St. Paul University Dumaguete’s College of Arts and Education professor, Mrs. Irish S. Udtohan, MS Bio, together with her senior Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in Biological Sciences students, conducted an educational visit to Bais City, Negros Oriental last August 16, 2018.

    Bais City is known to be the first city in Negros Oriental to have a Fuel Ethanol Plant and a known Banana Tissue Culture laboratory. Thus, with regard to the Biotechniques class of Mrs. Udtohan, the city was the chosen destination for the one-day educational tour. The visit’s first stop was at the Universal Robina Corporation (URC) Fuel Ethanol Plant. Upon arriving, the class was welcomed and oriented by Mr. John Y. Quibot, the Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) officer of URC-FEP about some do’s and don’ts during the tour within the plant. Cellular phones were strictly prohibited inside and taking of pictures weren’t allowed. The class was then toured by Ms. Venice D. Morales, an EHS staff. She explained that the plant started its first operation in 2014 with three shifts 24/7. At the start of the tour, she introduced the class to the Production Planner of the URC-FEP, Mr. France Ryan Ybañez, who was in charge of the monitoring of the ongoing processes of the plant. He presented a power point presentation about how Ethanol is being produced through the process of fermentation. In URC-FEP Bais city, ethanol is made from the waste products of sugar cane, coming from the Universal Robina Sugar Milling Corp. (URSUMCO) which is surprisingly located right just across the street. To sum the discussion up, the class learned that the ethanol production process includes several steps. First, the waste products of URSUMCO are dissolved from the ground material, converting starch or cellulose into sugar. Next, Microbes such as yeast or bacteria feed on the sugar, producing ethanol in the process called fermentation. Then, ethanol is distilled to achieve high concentration. Lastly, the denaturation process takes place, wherein additives like gasoline are added so that it can be readily distributed to oil-refining companies.

    The second stop of the tour was the Bais City Department of Agriculture’s Banana and Orchid Tissue Culture Laboratory. It is believed to have started by the year 1993 and is still operating until now. The class is toured by Mrs. Aurora Vilas Ordona who has been a staff of the laboratory since it was first established. She explained that Tissue Culture is a modern technology that can be applied for mass production of superior grade planting material for crops. This method of cultivation or production ensures not only higher yields but quality as well. The process starts when a banana corm is cultured inside the laboratory. After 1 to 2 months, it is then subcultured repeatedly until eight subcultures are reached. When all of it becomes banana seedlings, they will be brought to the greenhouse for these plants are then ready for transplanting in the main field. Another advantage of tissue-cultured banana plants is that they produce uniform maturity of the fruits, which makes the harvesting process easy and reduces labor cost.

    Finally, the day ended and the class concluded that it was a fun and very informative educational visit. Indeed, learning is not just limited within the four corners of the classroom!

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