Ronaldo M. Fabicon

By Mark Adam Ferry

What has science done for you lately?  This is rhetorical question a common person would easily blurt out in desperation. Have you noticed laundry detergents generating desirable voluminous suds in the washing process to clean the laundry? However, while ample suds are desirable during cleaning, it typically takes between multiple rinses to remove them, translating to water wastage as well as added energy or labor cost. Here comes a patented invention that dared to improve this laundering dilemma providing a liquid laundry detergent containing 0.01-1% of a silicone-containing suds suppressor and thus saving water.

The patent inventor previously described is Ronaldo Fabicon, an alumnus of Pennsylvania State University with a doctorate degree of inorganic chemistry with a specialization in organometallic chemistry and catalysis. His research area is inorganic chemistry, and focuses on both heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis. Currently, he is working on the use of surfactants, polymers, and the complexes of both synthesis of active-release agents. Included in this research is the interaction of surfactants with inorganic materials like zeolites in complexes. He also dabbles in using zeolite for the catalysis of the production of biodiesel.

As a researcher in the Philippine context, he notes that one of the main struggles he experienced is the limited access if not unavailability of high-tech instruments used for characterization. “Because of these limitations, sometimes, we cannot to research that we are most interested in. We look at research that can be done here in the Philippines using the equipment and the raw materials we have instead.” The industry in the country has a lot of potential to grow as well. “The good thing is that we are doing basic research which will be very useful here in the Philippines. Example, one of the research I hope to do is on biodiesel and looking to improve the catalysis on that. Eventually, it will lead to research that will help the industry and the use of it here.” Ronaldo hopes for a future that involves more high-tech research instead of the basic research that we do here today.

In terms of being a professor in the Ateneo, he states that the quality of chemistry education given by universities in the Philippines is almost at par with other developed countries with a more rigorous culture for science and research. “Based from my experience in universities in the United States and when I was in China.” For chemistry education in the country, he is already satisfied with the level of learning being done now, but he is more interested how far the Philippines will progress once the ASEAN integration is in full effect. “I think there will be a lot of improvement for research.”

Outside the laboratory, he loves tinkering with used computers he salvages. “I don’t know how I came to love this, but I buy a non-working computer and look at what’s inside. I try to some things work. I don’t have any education on computers and electronics, but it’s a hobby of mine; the thrill of self-discovery and the things that you can make of it.”