University of the Philippines Los Baños

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“We must make fear and the future our friend,” said Senator Richard J. Gordon, as he encouraged the UPLB Class of 2017 to set aside fear as they pursue a new chapter of their lives as UP graduates.

Sen. Gordon was the guest of honor and speaker at the 45th UPLB Commencement Exercises on June 24 at the DL Umali Freedom Park. A total of 2,454 students received their certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees at the ceremonies.

Sen. Gordon emphasized the power of using one’s mind in conquering personal and social challenges, saying that the mind has no boundaries in facing these things. He cited national hero Jose Rizal as a quintessential fearless man who stood up against the odds of colonial times. He also shared how the people of Singapore and Japan had allowed the limitless possibilities of their minds in bringing abundance to their countries.

He talked about his own experience in conquering fear when he was appointed to the helm of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) and led it to succeed amid the closure of the then US Naval Base and the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the early 1990’s. Sen. Gordon was the founding chairman of SBFZ from 1992-1998. “Don’t let anybody say, ‘you can’t do it’,” he said. He also reminded the graduates that while failure is inevitable, standing up after failing is what really matters.

Sen. Gordon also urged the graduates to use their education to lead people out of the darkness. “The vulnerable needs champions like you, who will go to the forefront and speak and act for them.”

This year’s class valedictorian, Arnel B. Villancio, Jr., BS Agriculture, summa cum laude, also enjoined the graduates to take brave steps for the country. “Panahon na upang pakilusin ang karunungang ilang taon ding pinagyabong ng ating mga karanasan sa loob at labas man ng UP (It’s about time to translate into action the knowledge that our experiences have nurtured inside and outside the UP),” he said.

Simulan na nating tiyakin ang landas na tatahakin ng bawat isa sa atin upang marating natin ang iisang mithiin: isang maunlad at mapayapang Pilipinas (Let us start ensuring the path that each of us would take so that we could reach one aspiration: a progressive and peaceful Philippines),” Villancio further said.

Present during the ceremony were Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., who presented the graduates, and Dr. Ma. Cynthia Rose B. Bautista, UP vice president for academic affairs, who conferred the degrees to the graduates on behalf of UP President Danilo L. Concepcion. Alumni Regent Ramon M. Maronilla and For. Leo R. Ballesfin, presidents of the UP and UPLB Alumni Associations, respectively, inducted the graduates to the said alumni organizations.

Also present were Faculty Regent Patricia Arinto, Staff Regent Alexis Mejia, and Regent Francis Laurel; Dr. Teodoro Herbosa, UP executive vice president; Dr. Ruben L. Villareal, past UPLB chancellor; UPLB officials; and professor emeriti of UPLB. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)

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Dr. Arsenio M. Balisacan, chairman of the Philippine Competition Commission and a renowned economist and expert on poverty, recognized the role of graduate degree holders in national development during his keynote address at the Graduate School (GS) Hooding Ceremony and Recognition Program on June 23 at the DL Umali Freedom Park.

Dr. Balisacan, former secretary of socio-economic planning and director-general of the National Economic Development Authority, was the program’s guest of honor and speaker. During the occasion that was held one day before they were conferred their degrees, the 323 students who finished their graduate studies were recognized. Sixty-one of them were Doctor of Philosophy students on whom their respective faculty-thesis advisers placed the doctoral hood, symbolizing their success in completing their doctoral program.

“Our higher education gives us greater capacity and more competence to contribute significantly to the perpetual task of nation building,” Dr. Balisacan said. “Your acquired higher degrees have already set you apart from your colleagues and counterparts. You are at the premium position to affect change and direct the sail of your organizations, communities, and the country.”

Dr. Balisacan also reminded them of the contribution of the Filipino people towards subsidizing the students’ UP education, and urged them to give back to their countrymen. “Let us use our advanced knowledge and skills not only for advancing our position in the social ladder, but also for improving the welfare of those who toiled day and night to pay for our education,” he said.

“We owe our degrees to the Filipino people, even to the poorest of the society, because the money and valuable resources spent for you is money that could have been spent for their basic education, services, and housing, and even for much needed infrastructure, particularly in the rural areas,” he added. Dr. Balisacan is also a UPLB alumnus, having earned his MS Agricultural Economics from the University in 1982 before pursuing PhD Economics at the University of Hawaii.

Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., in his opening remarks, also encouraged the graduating students to use their knowledge for greater social purposes. “We encourage you to use your knowledge not only in pursuing further academic and intellectual endeavors, but also in addressing social concerns,” he said.

Chancellor Sanchez led in the awarding of certificates and the placing of hoods on the graduating students, together with Dr. Ma. Cynthia Rose B. Bautista, UP vice president for academic affairs. Assisting them were Dr. Myrna G. Carandang, university registrar, Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr. and Dr. Mark Dondi M. Arboleda, dean and college secretary of GS, respectively, and the deans and advisers of the students.

The top graduating students were also recognized during the program. Michael Vincent O. Laurio, MS Chemical Engineering, and Rowena R. Sazon, PhD Environmental Science, were named as academic excellence awardees for garnering the highest General Weighted Average at the master’s and doctorate levels, respectively.

In their speeches, Laurio described their caps and gowns as a symbol of their commitment to serve the country, while Sazon articulated that UP’s motto of “honor and excellence” is an emblem that they will bring along in their professions.

Present during the program were UP regents, namely: Faculty Regent Patricia Arinto; Staff Regent Alexis Mejia; and Regent Francis Laurel. UPLB officials also graced the ceremony. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)

Dr. Perlas

Photo from Dr. Perlas' Linkedin account

He lived a life raging, raging against the lack of medical services for people in the fringes of society. Until his very choice saw him go into that good night.

Dr. Dreyfuss B. Perlas. UPLB mourns his death as it would a son, a brother, and a friend because he spent a good part of his life here in this University where, one likes to think, he may have partly learned and imbibed the culture of service.

Dr. Perlas was a medical doctor who was shot to death by an unknown assailant on March 1 in Lanao del Norte. He served the people of the province’s Sapad town, a fifth class municipality as a volunteer rural health physician under the Doctors to the Barrio (DTTB) Program of the Department of Health.

As if lured by the siren’s song, he stayed to become its municipal health officer, where he lived a life well lived in service, but sadly died a senseless death in a place he had evidently grown to love. For how else could one explain his decision to stay longer in Sapad?

Dr. Maria Dalisay G. Maligalig, associate professor at the UPLB Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS) and Dr. Perlas’ undergraduate adviser, expressed shock upon learning the news about his demise. She recalled that in December 2016, she received a message from Dr. Perlas saying that he wanted to meet her and his other professors when he visits UPLB.

“Like the rest of the members of the faculty, I am so saddened by the loss of a young man at the prime of his life and career,” Dr. Maligalig said.

Dr. Maligalig remembers Dr. Perlas as a quiet student and a very tall lanky man with a ready smile. “His face still flashes through my mind,” she said, recalling how a sheepish Dreyfuss would smile and apologize to her every time she would tell him that a fellow faculty member reported him for a minor misdemeanor such as sleepily nodding off in class.

Dr. Maligalig said that she was not surprised when Dr. Perlas chose to work as a doctor in the far-flung town, after all, IBS professors always tried to instill the virtue of service to their students.

In a published statement on its Facebook page, Philobioscientia: The UPLB Life Sciences Society, of which Dr. Perlas was a member, said that the organization did not only lose a brother but a modern-day hero as well.

“It is of great sadness to lose someone who has dedicated his life to our underserved countrymen. He is truly an unsung hero, who has lived by his principles and embodied the essence of being a true iskolar ng bayan, para sa bayan,” the statement read.

The death of Dr. Perlas cries out for justice to be done. It cries out for society to rage, rage against his senseless death that is wrapped in the darkness of night. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria, with reports from www.rappler.com)

 

UPLB officials led by Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. recently held two separate consultation meetings with heads of state universities and colleges (SUC) and with private companies, government agencies, and industry associations that are based in Davao and neighboring provinces.

Held on April 21 in Lanang, Davao City, the meetings aimed to ensure that the University of the Philippines Professional School for Agriculture and the Environment (UP PSAE) will be offering courses that are responsive to the needs of the different sectors in the area.

UP PSAE is an extension campus of UPLB that is administered by the Graduate School under Dean Jose V. Camacho, Jr. and through UP PSAE director, Anna Floresca Firmalino. Both Dean Camacho and Dir. Firmalino are faculty members at the College of Economics and Management in UPLB.

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Attending the meeting with the SUC heads were (from left to right): Dean Enrico Supangco of the College of Agriculture, UPLB; Irvin Generalao, president of the Southern Philippine Agri-Business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology; Ben-Hur Rafosala, chancellor of the University of Southeastern Philippines-Tagum/Mabini Campus; Girley Gumanao, dean of the Institute of Aquatic and Applied Sciences, Davao del Norte State College ; Shirley Villanueva, vice president for academic affairs, University of Southeastern Philippines; Chancellor Sanchez; Chancellor Sylvia Concepcion of UP Mindanao; Helen Perpetua, dean of the College of Agriculture, Mindanao State University-General Santos Campus; Dean Camacho; Nilo Oponda, vice chancellor for academic affairs of UP Mindanao; Larry Digal, dean of the School of Management of UP Mindanao; and Dir. Firmalino.

Ricardo Luis Mateo Lagdameo, vice president of Damosa Land Inc., UPLB’s partner in planning and building the UP PSAE, was also at the two meetings.  Damosa Land is a subsidiary of ANFLOCOR that donated 31,000 sqm of land in Agriya in Panabo City, Davao del Norte where the UP PSAE will be constructed.

The newly created UP PSAE campus will be launched in May.  Classes will be held in the meantime at the Damosa Corporate Center while facilities are still being constructed for the UP PSAE.

UP PSAE will be offering postgraduate programs and short courses/trainings in off-campus mode for the next six years before transitioning to a combination of residential and off-campus programs starting on its seventh year.

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Mas gusto ko po na tawagin ninyo akong ‘Danicon’ (I prefer to be called ‘Danicon’),” said President Danilo L. Concepcion to the UPLB community at the welcome program tendered in his honor by the University on March 10 at DL Umali Hall. This puts an end to questions asking how he would like his constituents to call him.

Wala po sa akin ang titulo na itatawag ninyo sa akin. Mas mahalaga po sa akin na ako ay ituturing ninyong kaibigan at kasama. Kapag tinawag po ninyo akong ‘Danicon,’ ang ibig sabihin po niyan, tinuturing ninyo akong kaibigan (Titles do not matter to me. What matters to me is that you will consider me as a friend and a colleague. Therefore, if you call me ‘Danicon,’ it means that you consider me as your friend),he said.

Faculty development, quality students, contractual employees

In his first message to UPLB as UP’s chief executive, President Concepcion recognized the importance of providing an enabling environment to its faculty members, whom he believes to be one of the pillars of the University. “Let us give them an environment that will allow them to grow, that will make them happy with what they are doing, and that will give them time to write, to research, and to be productive,” President Concepcion said.

He said that he will strive to expand the University’s resources to support faculty members’ advanced studies, not only in Philippine universities but also abroad. He said that their new learnings would be crucial not only to their profession and to the University, but to the nation as well.

President Concepcion also articulated the importance of maintaining UP’s high admission standards, but at the same time giving equal opportunities for everyone to be admitted to the University. “We will not lower the quality of education simply because we want to target a particular sector of our society. We have to keep the quality of our education in the University, and therefore we have to keep the quality of students that we are molding to be useful for the country,” he said.

He bared his plan of having new graduates who received free education from UP to teach at provincial high schools for one year with pay. “We have to improve the quality of instruction in the public schools in the provinces, upang tumaas ang tyansa ng mga estudyante nito na makapasa sa UPCAT (to increase the students’ chances of passing the UPCAT),” President Concepcion said. UPCAT refers to the highly competitive UP College Admission Test.

President Concepcion also noted the need to address labor policies, particularly on its contractual employees. After recognizing the latter’s contributions to the University, which he said are comparable to regular employees, he said that he will fight for them to secure item positions during his term.

Moved by UPLB’s welcome

Musical performances from UPLB’s performing artists and chorale groups, both made up of students and teachers, marked the welcome program for President Concepcion. Some of the original Filipino songs rendered were President Concepcion’s own favorite, such as “Sinasamba, minamahal,” “Kahit magtiis,” “Forevermore,” and “You.”

UPLB performers also did a Batangas ritual called “Puttungan” as a way to honor and welcome President Concepcion. They danced while hoisting palm leaves and then placed a sampaguita garland around President Concepcion’s neck.

President Concepcion was also treated to audio-visual presentations showing testimonials about him by his family and chief of staff, well-wishes from UPLB’s sectoral representatives, one entitled Boses ng mga Kaagapay (Voices of Partners) that had sectoral representatives express their hopes under the new UP president’s term, and on public service and compassion in UPLB through its public service programs.

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“Hindi ko po inakala na ganito pala kainit tumanggap ng isang bisita ang UPLB. Halos ako po ay maluha nung nakita ko ang ginagawa ninyong pagtanggap sa akin ngayon. Hindi ko po akalain na ganito pala kalaki itong seremonya ngayong umaga (I did not expect this warm welcome from UPLB. You almost moved me to tears while watching the program. I did not expect this grand ceremony this morning),” said the grateful President Concepcion.

President Concepcion also gamely answered the questions asked by Assoc. Prof. Jeanette Angeline Madamba of the College of Economics and Management. This portion revealed more of the President’s personality and background.

In one of the questions, President Concepcion disclosed that he was supposed to pursue BS Agricultural Engineering in UPLB after passing the UPCAT and the then National Science Development Board scholarship examination, which is today’s Department of Science and Technology scholarship. However, due to financial reasons, he had to choose the nearer De La Salle Araneta University, where he graduated summa cum laude.

The UPLB constituents filled the university theater, led by Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. who gave the welcome remarks. Joining him were UPLB officials, faculty members, staff, students, and alumni.

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Also present were UP Regents Francis Laurel and Alexis Mejia; Dr. Teodoro Herbosa, UP executive vice president; Dr. Elvira Zamora, UP vice president for development; Dr. Wendell Capili, UP assistant vice president for public affairs; and former UPLB chancellors, namely: Dr. Ruben Villareal, Dr. Luis Rey Velasco, and Dr. Rex Victor Cruz.

Atty. Gabriela “Gaby” R. Concepcion, wife of President Concepcion, also witnessed the event.

The program was directed by Asst. Prof. Jeremy dela Cruz, with creative ideas from Asst. Prof. Romeo dela Cruz, Jr. and Assoc. Prof. Jerry Yapo, all of the Department of Humanities. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)