University of the Philippines Los Baños

The UPLB Horizon is issued quarterly and features news, feature articles, research and extension updates, literary pieces, and information of general interest to UPLB and its publics. For contributions, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


We all are familiar with barcodes. In fact, we encounter them every time we pay for items that we buy in the supermarket. With the barcoding concept in mind, Dr. Orville L. Bondoc, an animal breeding and genetics expert/faculty member at the Animal and Dairy Sciences Cluster of the College of Agriculture, came up with a proposal in 2010 to conduct the “UPLB-Department of Agriculture DNA Barcoding Project-Agricultural Sub-sector on Animal Production and Health.”

The project, funded by the Philippine Agriculture and Fisheries Biotechnology Program of the Department of Agriculture aimed to analyze evolutionary relationships, genetic diversity and distances among common breeds, strains and crossbreeds of important livestock and poultry species.

Carrying on the initiative further, Dr. Bondoc wrote the book entitled “DNA Barcoding: Livestock and Poultry Breeds and Strains, Going Beyond Taxonomic Classifications.” The book was given the 2014 Outstanding Book Award by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), the third time that a book written by Dr. Bondoc received the same award from NAST.

The book highlights the use of DNA barcoding as the molecular procedure to monitor, record, and image biodiversity of domestic animal genetic resources relevant to the genetic improvement and conservation in the Philippines. DNA barcoding can be used to assign specimens to known species and distinct livestock breeds and strains of buffaloes, goats, sheep, and pigs, but not for cattle and dogs.

DNA barcoding can also be used to identify and differentiate between families, and between breeds and strains in most poultry species such as chickens, quails, turkey, ducks, and pigeons, provided that a reference data set has been defined in a local library of mitochondrial COI sequences. The book includes 1,041 pictures and 158 illustrative DNA barcodes of animal breeds and strains found in the Philippines.

According to him, this is a departure from the taxonomic procedure of classifying biological organisms using their morphological features but is not intended to replace it. Instead, as Dr. Bondoc pointed out, DNA barcoding, initially used by Dr. Paul Hebert’s research team from Canada, is now used as a global standard for the identification of biological species.

The barcodes are based on a gene region in the cell mitochondria of the specimens. Standard procedures are used to obtain the DNA barcode sequences and the results are submitted to the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD) that is created and maintained by the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

As a quick and inexpensive way to recognize domesticated animal breeds and strains, DNA barcodes are recommended to compliment phenotypic performance data and history of populations, to determine the degree of genetic diversity in important animal breeding populations, and to identify those needing more detailed phylogenetic analysis.

Barcodes can also be used to monitor and manage importation and facilitate authentication of animal-based food product. DNA barcodes should also provide reliable guidelines for conservation decisions and for designing local breeding programs  for native animal genetic resources in the Philippines.

Dr. Bondoc, with a rank of Professor 12, is a multi-awarded researcher and scientist. His two other books that were awarded the NAST Outstanding Book Awards in 1999 and in 2010, respectively, are entitled “Biodiversity of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources in the Philippines” and “Animal Breeding: Principles and Practice in the Philippine Context.” The second book published and launched in 2008 by the UP Press in time for the celebration of the UP Centennial, was one of 100 books and the only one from UPLB that was awarded the UP Press Centennial Publication Award  in 2008. 

Dr. Bondoc has produced more than 85 peer-reviewed articles published in local and international scientific journals about animal breeding. He has also been awarded Outstanding Young Scientist (OYS) by the NAST-Philippines in 1997; Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) Prize for Young Scientists in the Philippines (biology) in 2002;  The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines by the Philippine Jaycees, Inc. and the Gerry Roxas Foundation in 2003; and  the Achievement Award for Agriculture and Forestry by the National Research Council of the Philippines in 2007.



His work as research scientist and an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign would have been the launching pad for a successful career in the US. But the desire to help livestock farmers back home proved very difficult to resist, and soon, Dr. Rommel Sulabo was on a plane back to the Philippines.

Within just a year after his recruitment to the UP Balik PhD Program, he has already accomplished much as a teacher and as a researcher. His contributions to knowledge on livestock nutrition and production are affirmed by the 2014 Outstanding Young Scientist Award that he has just received from the National Academy of Science and Technology - Philippines.

Through his research on applied monogastric nutrition, specifically on feed ingredient evaluation, feed processing and safety, animal growth modeling, and feed management, Dr. Sulabo has provided livestock producers with information on practices that will improve the management, profitability, and sustainability of small and large livestock operations. He has also written 26 articles that have been published in ISI-indexed journals, 20 research reports, 31 research abstracts, 4 book chapters, 13 technical modules, 11 conference proceedings, and over 50 popular articles.

He has especially been passionate about finding feed substitutes that are cheaper and can bring down the cost of livestock production. For instance, he has conducted studies to identify possible cheap substitutes for costly feed ingredients. “For Filipino farmers to be more competitive, they have to reduce their cost. Since feed is 60 to 80% of their total cost, we must exert a lot of efforts to bring down its cost,” he said.

One of the promising feed ingredients that could substitute for corn is cassava. “Cassava, a cheaper ingredient, can be used as a major component of animal feed. Both crops can provide energy, although cassava is not used as much as corn. We must strengthen researches that will show us the energy found in cassava and other local products in order to determine amounts to be used in animal feed. If feed cost would be reduced, the total production cost of meat would also be reduced,” Dr. Sulabo explained.

He believes that we must try to ensure that research information is applied and that work does not stop when the research is completed. “There is so much information from research that we should bring to the livestock producers to help them improve their production systems,” he pointed out.

To bridge the gap between farmers and researchers, he engages in extension work involving all sectors. He has collaborated extensively with stakeholders of the livestock industry to get producers to access the latest information that they can adopt to improve operation. He has given over 300 presentations, seminars, and training courses for livestock farmers, animal nutritionists, and farm personnel.

Dr. Sulabo aims to empower farmers to be open to new innovations. He said, “we are trying to engage the farmers themselves because we cannot do a lot of work and not let anybody know what we are doing. That is a failure of communicating what we do. We will then not have an impact.” 

Dr. Sulabo’s desire to help improve the country’s livestock industry may have caused him to turn his back on a comfortable life in the US, but it has also propelled him to greater heights in his academic and scientific career here in the country. But his main source of fulfillment is knowing that he has been contributing much in developing the country’s livestock industry.


UPLB is a university known for its numerous contributions to science, so much so that UPLB has become the go-to institution when it comes to scientific know-how. This has been ingrained in UPLB’s image for as long as we can remember. 

However, within the walls of UPLB lie gems in the field of the arts. Artists inspired by the refreshing environment of Mt. Makiling thrive within the University. If you are an arts enthusiast and frequenter of exhibits and plays in campus, chances are you have encountered the ‘artsier’ side of the UPLB crowd. Among these gems, none probably shines brighter than Prof. Layeta P. Bucoy, associate professor V at the Department of Humanities of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS).

Teaching full time does not seem to slow her down; she manages to write at least one play per semester. In addition, her plays have been part of the Virgin Labfest – an annual showcase of new plays that have not been run or entered in any competition.

Prof. Bucoy has been awarded the prestigious Palanca Award for Literature many times and in multiple categories for works such as the “Ang Repleksyon ni Miss Trajano (2nd place, Teleplay category, 1998), El Galeon de Simeon (2nd place, Dulang May Isang Yugto category, 2011), and Doc Resurreccion: Gagamutin ang Bayan (1st place, Dulang May IsangYugto category, 2009).

For her productivity in the arts and theater, she was named UP Artist II under the UP Arts Productivity System in August 2013 in the literary arts category. She is the sole UPLB faculty to have been given this distinction.  The UP Arts Productivity System is the counterpart for the arts of the UP Scientific Productivity System, approved by the Board of Regents (BOR) at its 1239th meeting in 2008. The award recognizes “outstanding productivity in the creative arts or in arts scholarship for national development.”

Prof. Bucoy is a member of Writer’s Bloc and Tokyo’s Rinkogun Theater’s Philippine Bedtime Stories.  She was also part of the Indonesia Public Reading Festival in 2010, the Za-Koenji Public Theater’s 1st Asian Playwrights Conference, and the Melbourne’s Art Centre’s Asian Playwrights Public Reading. 

Recently, she launched another one of her plays, Kleptomaniacs. This play was shown at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on July 11, 2014. Kleptomaniacs puts a spin on the standard musical format and throws rap, fliptop, and other pop culture elements into the mix and comes up with something unique – a mix that can only be conceived in the playful mind of Prof. Layeta P. Bucoy.


UPLB College of Agriculture’s Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) awarded its two newest breeds of Hibiscus to two exemplary women. These included the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Pia S. Cayetano’ to Philippine Senator and lawyer Pia S. Cayetano (Women in Public Service)  and Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Patricia B. Licuanan to Dr. Patricia B. Licuanan, chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education, on Aug. 28 at the UP Executive House in UP Diliman, Quezon City.

The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Pia S. Cayetano, has fuschia-colored flowers that are  simple and regular  with dark purple eyes. The leaves are simple, discoid, ovate and glossy, and arranged alternately. The plant is shrubby, vigorous, semi-erect, and  tall. It is also a fast grower and very floriferous,  blooming all-year round, peaking from May to December.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Patricia B. Licuanan has simple and regular flowers that have solferino purple color and ruby red eye surrounded by gray halo. The leaves are simple, ovate and glossy, and arranged alternately. The plant is shrubby, vigorous, and erect. It is a fast grower and very floriferous, with the bracts blooming all-year round, peaking from May to December.

At the presentation of the Hibiscus hybrids, Chancellor Rex Victor O. Cruz shared that UPLB is pleased that its products are associated with accomplished personalities. He said that he wants these products to reach the general public and be appreciated by our countrymen.

UP President Alfredo E. Pascual in his welcome message commended the leadership of IPB in plant breeding and hopes for greater public appreciation of its work.

The new hibiscus hybrids were developed by Dr. Pablito M. Magdalita, Associate Professor II and UP Scientist I of the Institute of Plant Breeding under the College of Agriculture (IPB-CA). The Hibiscus breeding program started with Reynold Pimentel, former researchers of IPB-CA in 1994. Already there are nine (9) series, namely: Centennial, Millennium, Celebrity, Oblation, Women in Public Service, Women in Science, Women in the Arts, Women in Education, Women Saints Series, and institutions named after them.


(With reports from the following sources:, and Philippines’ Women Achievers by Pablito M. Magdalita and Reynaldo B. Pimentel)

Pages of history of both the University and the country were revisited when UPLB officials welcomed the members of the prominent Laurel clan on Sept. 2 for the launching of the Jose Sotero Laurel III Professorial Chair in Agribusiness.

The 1.5 million-peso grant is named after Amb. Jose Sotero Laurel III, the second child of the late president Jose P. Laurel (Second Philippine Republic, 1943-1945). Mr. Francis C. Laurel, son of Amb. Laurel and president and chief executive officer of YKK Philippines, conceptualized of and sponsored the said professorial chair in honor of his father on his centennial birth anniversary. The chair, which recognizes his father’s contribution to business and management, aims to support lectures on persistent and emerging issues in agribusiness development.

According to Dr. Dinah Pura T. Depositario, chair of the Department of Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship of the College of Economics and Management (DAME-CEM), the professorial chair is open to issues in agribusiness such as the need to integrate small farmers into local and global supply chains; business resilience strategies amidst disasters and other climate change manifestations; and strategic options for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the light of the ASEAN Economic Integration. The professorial chair will boost DAME-CEM and one of the newly established interdisciplinary studies centers of UPLB, the UP Agribusiness Center for Entrepreneurship.

Francis Laurel, the son, is no stranger to UPLB. He earned his BS Agriculture from UPLB in 1969 as magna cum laude. He belongs to the third batch of BSA graduates who majored in agricultural business through UPLB’s partnership with the College of Business Administration (now Cesar E.A. Virata School of Business) at UP Diliman. The program was the precursor to UPLB’s full-blown BS Agribusiness Management program. In 1990, he was awarded the Most Outstanding Alumnus of CEM for his excellence in business and management.

A Public Servant’s Journey to Malacañan

Amb. Jose Sotero Laurel, to whom the professorial chair is dedicated, was born on August 27, 1914. He completed his secondary education from the UP High School and studied pre-law for two years at UP. He then went to Japan as the first and only Filipino student at the Imperial Japanese Army Academy (1934-1937), taking up engineering.

One of his legacies to the Philippine government was his service to two presidents: first to Manuel L. Quezon during the Commonwealth and second to his father Jose P. Laurel during World War II. Before the War, he became an aide de camp of President Quezon.

It was his service to Malacañan Palace as his father’s chief aide when his knowledge and courage were tested under the challenging Japanese-sponsored Philippine Republic. He helped strengthen the intelligence unit of his father’s administration in the midst of Japanese media censorship.