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Amazing Inventions by Filipinos That Are Still Being Used Today

We may not be known for science, but the Philippines has made some remarkable contributions to the field.
ILLUSTRATOR Bacs Arcebal
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You may have read Filipino Invention Myths We Totally Fell For and learned that no, a Filipino did not invent the fluorescent lamp. No, a Filipino did not invent the Armalite. No, ancient Filipinos did not use yoyos as weapons. When it comes to who invented what, a lot of the stories out there are fiction, but these are real.

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The two-way videophone

Photo by Harry Cunningham on Unsplash.
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How would remote working be without Skype or Zoom? All this would not have been possible without the precursor to all of complex videotelephony: the two-way videophone that was invented in 1955 by Filipino physicist and engineer Gregorio Zara. A Batangas native, he pursued studies at the University of the Philippines, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and University of Michigan (summa cum laude). He was conferred the "Tres Honorable," the first Filipino to receive that honor. Nobel winner Marie Curie was also given the same prize.

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On top of the video phone, Zara also established an eponymous physical law, worked on solar power, and invented several other things. 

The karaoke machine

Photo by Wikipedia.
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Filipinos and karaoke. It's such a match that Filipinos have died for it. (Read: How Frank Sinatra’s Song ‘My Way’ Triggered Filipino Karaoke Killings). It's important to realize that Filipinos did not invent karaoke, which is a Japanese concept featuring a person singing along a recorded accompaniment. However, in 1975, Filipino Roberto del Rosario did invent and patent the karaoke sing-along machine as we know it. Now, singing karaoke is as much a part of Filipino culture as it ever was Japanese.

The bamboo incubator

Photo by Sharon McCutcheaon for Unsplash.
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Fe del Mundo was a great many things. A pioneering pediatrician in the Philippines, she studied at the University of the Philippines and pursued further training in Boston. In 1941, to help rural communities without electricity, she designed the bamboo incubator, a makeshift incubator that utilized two wicker laundry baskets of varying sizes. She put hot water bottles in the space between the baskets to regulate the temperature of the infants then added a hood and oxygen. 

Erythromycin

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Did you know that this popular antibiotic was discovered in Iloilo? Dr. Abelardo B. Aguilar was working for international pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly and Company as a researcher. In 1949, he submitted his work to superiors who declared it a new type of antibiotic that could cure bacterial infections. Eli Lilly and Company branded it Ilosone (after Iloilo), but never gave Aguilar the credit he was due. According to a feature by Filipiknow.net, promises that were made to him for his achievement, including a trip to the company's main plant, fell on deaf ears. 

Microchips

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A humble child of a rice farmer from Cagayan Valley, Dado Banatao worked his way up from a barefoot student to a Mapua cum laude to a trainee pilot to an alumnus of Stanford University. He was a member of the Homebrew Computer Club with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. His efforts resulted in the invention of the PC chipset and the Windows Graphics accelerator chip, both of which are still used in computers today. Specifically, he is credited for the 10-Mbit Ethernet CMOS with silicon coupler data-link control and transceiver chip, the first system logic chipset, and the first Windows Graphics accelerator chip. He founded three tech companies, one of which became the leading graphics chips market in the '90s. Today, he continues to support engineering students. 

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About The Author
Sasha Lim Uy
Managing Editor, EsquireMag.ph
Sasha eats to live and lives to eat. For five years, she handled SPOT.ph's food section and edited the last two installments of its Top 10 Food books. She also recently participated at the Madrid Fusion Manila as curator.
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