Pitong Pinoy Profiles: Alexis Belonio

Faye Valencia

By Shielo Mendoza, Yahoo! Southeast Asia

Filipino scientists don't exactly get a lot of publicity in this country—but this hasn't stopped Alexis Belonio, a prizewinning Filipino inventor, from paying it forward.

Belonio was the first Filipino to receive the Rolex Award for Enterprise in 2008 for his creation of a low-cost, environment friendly rice husk gas stove.

The Rolex Awards recognize pioneering projects all over the world that demonstrate innovation and contribute to the betterment of mankind.

Belonio's award-winning gas stove converts rice husks, one of Asia's most abundant farm wastes, into combustible fuel for domestic cooking.

Belonio, who also works as a researcher at the International Rice Research Institute and as an associate professor of agricultural engineering at Central Philippine University, said that he was motivated by the plight of poor farmers in the Philippines faced with the high cost of fuel for cooking.

His innovative invention does not only address the problem on rice husk disposal, it can also serve as an alternative for charcoal stoves with relatively shorter cooking time and lower investment cost.

"Ang nakikita ni Alexis na katuparan ng kaniyang ginawa ay kung ito ay gagamitin na nang malawakan dahil makakatipid ang Pilipinas at masi-save ang environment. Iyon ang mas priority na incentive ni Belonio—ang makapag-serve siya (Alexis wants what he created to be used by many people, so the whole country can save on costs, as well as save the environment. That's Alexis' priority, that's what he considers his incentive—to be able to serve," said Antonio Co, Belonio's colleague who regularly uses the rice husk stove.