Sunday, 9 March 2014

Gregorio Y. Zara
Great Filipino Scientist

Gregorio Zara

In our classrooms we are taught things about Science and Technology, the history, inventions, scientists, and many more. We know things about great scientists like Einstein, Galileo, Newton and many other scientist who have great contributions in the evolution of science. But these scientists are all foreign. As Filipinos we should also know about Filipino scientists and there great contribution to Science and Technology.

One of the great Filipino scientists is Gregorio Zara. He was born on March 8, 1902 in Lipa, Batangas. Even at a young age Dr. Zara already excelled in his schools. He graduated valedictorian in Lipa Elementary School in 1918 and he also graduated valedictorian in Batangas High School in 1922. It is no wonder that the child Gregorio Zara would grow into a great scientist.

As Gregorio Zara grows older he continued to excel in his studies. He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1926 as Cum Laude with the course BS Mechanical Engineering. In 1927, he took his Masters degree in Aeronautical Engineering in the University of Michigan and graduated as Summa Cum Laude and in 1930 he graduated with a Doctorate in Physics in the Sorbonne University and was awarded Tres Honorable, the highest award that could be given to graduate students (

Gregorio Zara like many other scientists and inventors, invented so many things. He was probably the most productive Filipino inventor with 30 devices and equipment patented to his name (Pinoy Achievers Blog 2010).

He invented the very first videophone in 1995 (Bellis, 2014). The videophone was patented as a “photo phone signal separator network”. Nowadays, video call is already common because we can now video call using smartphones or through facebook, skype, and many other applications. But long ago the very first videophone invention had been a great help. It helped people in communicating more efficiently because trough video calls you can talk with other people face to face even if your from different places with great distance.

Videophone Demonstration by Dr. Gregorio Zara

Modern Videophone

He also invented an airplane engine that ran on plane alcohol as fuel in 1952 (Bellis, 2014). This alcohol-fueled airplane is a very good invention because alcohol do not release bad components in the air so this engine will not contribute to air pollution. On September 30, 1954 his alcohol-fueled airplane engine was successfully tested and flown at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (

Aside from his two inventions, as a scientist he discovered the physical law of electrical kinetic resistance called the Zara effect, named after him, round 1930. The Zara effect states that:
"all contacts, turning or sliding, between metals, or between carbon and metals, or between metals and mercury, or between conductors, produce a resistance to the passage of electric current which may be kinetic and/or permanent electrical resistance. This is observed at currents of very low amperage. Kinetic electrical resistance is the resistance to the passage of electric current when contacts are in motion. Permanent electrical resistance manifests itself when contacts are at rest."

Together with other scientists and inventors he helped in improving some methods of producing solar energy including creating new designs for a solar water heater also known as the Solar Sober, a sun stove and a solar battery around 1960s (Pinoy Achievers Blog). We all know that solar batteries are very helpful. The solar battery that he made runs a radio and an electric fan. He also helped design the robot General Marex X-10. It's an an electronic robot which is capable of talking, walking, and obeying commands ( He also designed a microscope with a collapsible stage. Aside from these inventions there are still so many contributions made by Dr. Zara and he received so many awards because of his inventions.

As a great man Dr. Gregorio Zara occupied key positions in government and he also held executive positions in private, social, scientific, and civic organizations. But in October 15, 1978, at the age of 76, Gregorio Y. Zara died of heart failure ( The government of the Philippines accorded him a state funeral at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Even if e is already dead his works continue to live and will continue to live throughout the history.

There are already so many advances in Science and Technology nowadays. There are many discoveries and inventions. We all appreciate people nowadays who discover significant things in science and invented useful machines or things which are helpful to everyday living. But as we appreciate these modern scientists we should also at least know something about late scientists who also have great contributions to Science and Technology.


Briefer on the Order of National Scientists”. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Retreved from Retrieved on March 7, 2014.

Clouds in the Aferglow-Gregorio Y. Zara, Doctor of Science, 1978 Philippine National Scientist”
(September 14, 1998). Retrieved from Retrieved on March 7, 2014

Mary Bellis (2014). “Gregorio Zara-Filipino Scientists”. Retrieved from
Retrieved on January 25, 2014

Videophone Inventor: Gregorio Y. Zara”. Pinoy Achievers Blog (January 28, 2010). Retrieved from Retrieved on January 25, 2014

Lyka B. Ebreo

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