Envisioned to create opportunities for enterprising Filipinos, the Technology Resource Center (TRC) started its institutional journey in 1977, chiefly to serve as government’s repository of technologies and livelihood projects. It has since proved responsive to the ever changing needs of the times and adapted well to whatever its constituents demand of it.
Thirty-five years and several milestones later, the institution is geared at scaling its next summit. “Our goal for the next five years is to position TRC as the government’s leading agency for technology commercialization,” asserts TRC Director General Dennis Cunanan. He assured, however, the institution remains anchored on the spirit of its founding mandate, as evident in its flagship programs. “We have always worked with an entrepreneurial mind-set,” he said, “with the belief that technology, to be relevant, must make business more efficient, cost effective and produce excellent products.” From these basic convictions, Cunanan steers the organization towards a reinvigorated sense of mission.
Formerly known as TLRC (Technology and Livelihood Resource Center), the TRC has carved a solid reputation for itself as the government’s premiere vehicle for popular livelihood training. Its popularity as a training center peaked during the Corazon Aquino presidency, when TRC was lodged directly under the Office of the President (OP). Popularity, however, did not prove to be a panacea for TRC’s mounting internal deficit wrought by its inefficient lending programs for small entrepreneurs.
Thus, when the opportunity for reorganization and downsizing came in 2006, via the Executive Order 366 (which mandated government corporations to “rationalize”), the TRC was first to bite the bullet — and emerged out of the red, a leaner and stronger organization. Apart form cutting back on personnel, the TRC also trimmed down or shed some of its functions — including its withering lending services, which is a redundancy anyway as other government institutions offer the same service more competently. Cunanan, who was Deputy Director General at the time, took a hands-on approach to ensure that rationalization would proceed on schedule and with as little setback as possible. To this day, the TRC remains the best test case for EO 366, proving that rationalization of the Philippine bureaucracy can actually work.
With no more excess baggage to pull down the organization, the TRC quickly switched to an “austerity mode”, until it can completely reinvent and re-launch itself. “The transfer of TRC’s administrative supervision from the OP to the Department of Science and Technology in 2007 proved serendipitous,” Cunanan said, “as it expedited the reinvention of TRC, which in our case was more about going back to our roots as facilitator of the commercial transfer of technology.”
Cunanan has been with government all his professional life. In 1995, he run and won a seat in the Municipal Council of Magalang, Pampanga. For some time, he also sat as the town’s OIC Vice Mayor. As part of his duties, Cunanan also served as Director of the Philippine Councilors’ League, the Philippine Vice-Mayors’ League, as well as Secretary General of the National Movement of Young Legislators (Region III). In 2000, he was appointed Executive Director of the National Youth Commission (NYC) under the Office of the President. A year later, he was appointed Head Executive Assistant to the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Then in 2004, he was appointed as Presidential Assistant for Youth Affairs.
His post at TRC, however, is the one dearest to his heart. Working silently away from popular media attention, Cunanan believes that, through his job at TRC, he is able to make real and lasting difference in the lives and livelihood of countless many. Cunanan particularly feels privileged of the opportunity to work closely with DOST Secretary Mario J. Montejo, saying the secretary’s insights and directions has truly helped the TRC to catch its second wind.
Thus encouraged with Secretary Montejo’s support, a new vision for TRC began to take wings. Montejo underscored the institution’s corporate nature and saw the potential of leveraging TRC as DOST’s corporate arm, especially for the department’s technology commercialization projects. “Secretary Montejo steered us to a wider, brave new horizon,” Cunanan said, “he challenged us to aim higher, think bigger and take on a more and more active role within the DOST system.” Following this development, TRC immediately went back to the drawing board and redrafted a take-off plan.
In time for its 35th anniversary this year, Cunanan announced that the TRC is stepping up its project development efforts.
Among the biggest in its line-up is the development of community-based business incubators. Cunanan explained the project is an off-shoot of TRC’s success in managing the Open Technology Business Incubator (TBI) in UP, Diliman, which is jointly owned by DOST and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA). By duplicating the program in countryside, entrepreneurs in pursuit of technology-based businesses would receive a well rounded business support service, which includes access to world class consultancy experts in business law, accounting, marketing and financial sourcing.
Also in the pipeline is the commercialization of an affordable baby food product aimed at addressing the problem of child malnutrition in the country. Cunanan noted the product is now being pilot tested by the DOST’s National Food Research Institute (NFRI). Once they passed certification procedures, TRC will then activate it for commercial dissemination to the target consumers.
The agency is also seeking to partner with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for a project aimed at easing distribution of superior rice varieties to local farmers. The project, Cunanan said, would help stabilize production of high quality and environmentally sustainable, quality rice in the country, it would also contribute in attaining an improved income for farmers and better nutrition for consumers
Other noteworthy TRC projects include the commercialization of technology-based local inventions, the commercial development of healthy alternative flours, the manufacture of air fresheners out of seaweeds and the mass production of chopsticks and skewers out of local bamboos. The agency is also poised to set-up a rice post harvest facility in Nueva Ecija in partnership with the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR). Recently, TRC has also teamed up with Duty Free Philippines Corporation (DFPC) to provide free livelihood training to overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who will avail of the Kabuhayan Shopping Program.
Symbolic of the TRC’s reinvigorated operations is its very visible, highly accessible new office along EDSA. It is now located at Jacinta II Building, EDSA, Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati City (right beside the MMDA Building). For details regarding its livelihood training and self-learning booklets and videos, entrepreneurs may visit its website trc.dost.gov.ph or call 822-5418 (local 201).
Capping the organization’s renewed determination is its recently adopted official corporate tagline, “TRC: Creating Opportunities”. “Looking back at our long history, and taking note of how our function evolved to remain relevant to the public”, Cunanan explained, “we realized that through it all, TRC has consistently remained true to a singular, encompassing mission, which is best described as that of creating opportunities.” The tagline now serves as TRC’s everyday “battle cry” as it works to transform the country’s technology assets into business success stories that redound to better life for Filipinos.