A tribute by AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People

At a young age, Jan Michael ‘JM’ Ayuste had the making of an intelligent and capable scientist. He was a consistent honor student in elementary and high schools and graduated valedictorian in high school, a testament to his innate intelligence and great potential to become a scientist. He finished his Bachelor of Science in Biology degree in Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in 2014.

A product of the public school system from primary and secondary, JM entered the state university along with other students from working class backgrounds, full of enthusiasm for acquiring more scientific knowledge. In the university, JM not only focused on learning from books but also acquired his skills from practice. He had shown his leadership potential when he became the Secretary-General of PUP Junior Agham (later became Agham Youth PUP) through which organization he and other student leaders led his fellow students to be engaged and active on critical issues and advocated for a science and technology (S&T) that is relevant to the Filipino people. Collectively, they engaged other science majors and the rest of the university’s community in different meaningful activities. With JM’s guidance, Agham Youth organized in-depth discussions on various social and environmental issues. They did not only dwell on pressing issues in the campus but also made sure to unearth the root causes that define these issues whether it concerns climate change or destructive projects that have implications on the people’s well-being.

As a people’s scholar, he participated in international science conferences and joined environmental investigation missions (EIM) in various communities. More than that, JM led other Agham Youth members in actively participating in people’s protests and actions to raise their issues and concerns. These activities moulded him to become a leader and motivator among young scientists to raise their consciousness on how science can be used to respond to the problems besetting the society. He realized that this can be done by bridging scientists to communities and taking part in their struggles.

After graduating from college and having acquired his science degree, he dedicated his time and expertise in pursuing his advocacy of making science and technology truly relevant to the people. This translated to AGHAM Youth’s promotion of national industrialization and genuine agrarian reform—two vital requirements for national development—through a series of discussions and public forums in PUP during World Science Day for Peace and Development celebrations. The discussions also touched on the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), especially in relation to the attainment of national industrialization in the country.

Because of his leadership qualities, JM was entrusted to head the Education Committee of AGHAM and later on, in 2016, as its acting Deputy Secretary-General. He led AGHAM’s various EIMs which looked into the environmental and social impacts of big corporate projects such as mining in Nueva Vizcaya, Zambales, and Benguet; dams in Panay; and biofuel plantation in Isabela.

JM was also involved in addressing the problems concerning public utilities such as electricity, transportation, and water. He led a case study on the impact of the increasing electricity rate in an urban poor community in Quezon City. The baseline study became the basis of AGHAM’s People’s Science School (PSS) on the state of the electric power industry in the country, on why the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) makes electricity unreasonably expensive for poor communities. He also took part in studying the situation of jeepney drivers in light of the government’s move to implement jeepney phaseout as part of its privatization program of public utilities.

JM actively participated in AGHAM’s campaigns to address power rate hike, water rate hike, jeepney phaseout, MRT rehabilitation, mining disasters, and human rights violations affecting scientists and other sectors of the society.

He was also instrumental in drafting educational materials of AGHAM on the importance of national industrialization in the country’s economic development, efforts which helped in formulating AGHAM’s proposals for the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms between the GRP and the NDFP.

JM’s wholehearted devotion to making S&T serve the people did not stop with his advocacies with AGHAM. He answered a higher calling and decided to selflessly serve the people by living and working with the communities in the countryside. He died heroically while doing what he embraced fully and that is to serve the people.

AGHAM pays the highest tribute to John Michael Ayuste, one of the stellar members of our beloved organization. He made us proud and showed us a clear path on how a scientist truly makes meaningful contributions to science and people.

𝐷𝑖 𝑘𝑎 𝑛𝑎𝑚𝑖𝑛 𝑚𝑎𝑙𝑖𝑙𝑖𝑚𝑢𝑡𝑎𝑛, 𝐽𝑀. 𝑀𝑎𝑛𝑎𝑛𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑙𝑖 𝑘𝑎𝑛𝑔 𝑖𝑠𝑎𝑛𝑔 𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑛𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑛𝑎 𝑏𝑖𝑡𝑢𝑖𝑛 𝑢𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑔𝑙𝑎𝑤𝑎𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑔 𝑝𝑎𝑔𝑘𝑖𝑙𝑜𝑠 𝑛𝑎𝑚𝑖𝑛 𝑠𝑎 𝑝𝑎𝑔𝑝𝑎𝑝𝑎𝑢𝑛𝑙𝑎𝑑 𝑎𝑡 𝑝𝑎𝑔𝑔𝑎𝑚𝑖𝑡 𝑛𝑔 𝑠𝑦𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑦𝑎 𝑝𝑎𝑟𝑎 𝑠𝑎 𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑡 𝑘𝑎𝑝𝑎𝑘𝑎𝑛𝑎𝑛 𝑛𝑔 𝑚𝑎𝑚𝑎𝑚𝑎𝑦𝑎𝑛. 𝐵𝑢ℎ𝑎𝑦 𝑛𝑎 𝑏𝑢ℎ𝑎𝑦 𝑎𝑛𝑔 𝑖𝑦𝑜𝑛𝑔 𝑚𝑔𝑎 𝑎𝑙𝑎𝑎𝑙𝑎 𝑠𝑎 𝑎𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑝𝑢𝑠𝑜 𝑎𝑡 𝑖𝑠𝑖𝑝𝑎𝑛.

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