University of the Philippines Los Baños

(Webmaster's Note: The article was originally published online in Rappler.com on October 3, 2013 and republished in the UPLB Horizon Special Issue)

Mt Makiling, a key biodiversity hotspot and popular hiking destination, was named the 33rd ASEAN Heritage Park on Thursday, October 3.

In a ceremony held at the Mt Makiling Botanical Gardens in Los Baños, Laguna, officials from the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity presented the certification of declaration to the park managers and officials of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), under whose jurisdiction the mountain falls. Also there to receive the certification were mayors of cities covered by the Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve and officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

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CULTURE amid science parallels the bamboo’s zenith of its lifetime: flowers. Rare. The supreme white crown of the world’s tallest grass.

In like manner, culture in the University of the Philippines Los Baños, the country’s “tallest” institution of higher learning in the applied sciences, is becoming the University’s crown of distinction. Unique. This verdict of history, hardly heralded by reason of humility, marked its seminal seed when the College of Agriculture was founded on Friday, 6 March 1909. The old UPCA from which UPLB grew, had American scientist-educators who used a central factor in science education and culture – language.

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The birth of UP College of Agriculture (UPCA) at the foot of Mt. Makiling in 1909 marked the beginning of UP Los Baños (UPLB). A year after, the Forest School nestled under the wings of UPCA. These two – the UPCA and the Forest School – were the first of their kind in the whole of Southeast Asia. As early as 1920-21, students from India, China, Siam (Thailand), Java (Indonesia), Japan, and Guam enrolled in UPCA.

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UPLB woke up one day to see change that some did not see rhyme and reason for: that of the names of streets, buildings, and some important halls/rooms in the campus. Where before, the two main streets to which people diverged from the main gate were simply named Kanluran (west) and Silangan (east), they now sport names of people. Further inside the campus, more names of people replaced street names of tree species that used to guide us through the maze of streets in UPLB.

Naturally, as any change is wont to cause, a furor arose over why and how these streets were renamed. As historian Ambeth Ocampo asked over street name changes in Manila: is there pattern or logic to all these?

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UPLB may be well-known for its academic excellence, the Makiling Forest Reserve, its leadership in research, and its graduates who have been excelling in almost all professional spheres. An alumna, Ms. Ariella Arida, is currently making the news for winning the Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 2013.

But besides these UPLB treasures are gems – arches and portals – that are mostly taken for granted and meriting just a cursory glance as one passes by them. The curious, however, would probably wonder how they came to be. Vestiges of an era long gone, some of these portals and arches just seem to spring from various spots in the sprawling campus. But mind you, they were built there for a reason and remain there because UPLB decided to spare them from the wrecking ball.

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