University of the Philippines President Alfredo Pascual was in U.P. Mindanao on 11 September for the Launching and Inaugural Lecture of the U.P. Los Baños PhD Development Studies degree program offering in Davao City.
President Pascual, in his message, described the day's event as a turning point for UP and the country for seeing the partnership of the two U.P. constituent universities working in new and creative ways in the spirit of "One UP". He acknowledged the presence of Mr. Ricardo Lagdameo of ANFLOCOR, a private sector group helping develop another UP campus in Panabo City, and further informed the audience of the existence of the UP Manila School of Health Sciences in Koronadal that he hoped would produce doctors who will stay to serve their home communities.
He recalled that in his grade school geography, Mindanao was already called "The Land of Promise". He proposed to call Mindanao "the land of great promise" and a promise which the country needed to honor. The reasons, he stated, were that "more than 21.5 million people, or more than one-fifth of the Philippine population, including 27 indigenous peoples groups, live in Mindanao. As a 'food basket', one-third of the land area is devoted to agriculture, delivering 40% of the country's food requirement." He cited a 2010 study that said that mineral resources in Mindanao are valued at 312-Billion US Dollars, or 40% of the country's mineral reserves. "The people on Mindanao are literally sitting on a pot of gold" he said. In an aside, he added, "That is why we have to get going with responsible mining, but that is not happening." He said that efforts were needed to explain to people that the country needs these mineral resources and that "the children of the future might be ill-prepared to receive their legacy unless resources are generated out of these hidden treasures." He went on to enumerate the renewable energy sources of Mindanao from agricultural residues and biomass. He cited Siargao and Davao Oriental as ideal sites for ocean energy, and Surigao for wind power. He also mentioned a proposal for a solar farm in a U.P. Mindanao land reservation.
Despite these, he noted that Mindanao was impeded by long-standing issues of poverty, inequality, corruption, and violence. He proposed that new solutions are needed that are innovative and inter-disciplinary.
The UPLB Graduate School offering, he said, is ideal for its being comprehensive--bringing the rigor of the natural and social sciences, cutting across development issues--from the campus that is known for its expertise in forestry, agriculture, environmental science, culture, ecology, and governance. He noted the possible contribution of UP Baguio for its similar experiences in the Cordilleras. The president reported that in a recent world university ranking of 5,000 universities, the U.P. development studies program was in the 51st-100th-place.
He predicted that the new degree offering, now made available in the Mindanao region, would make an impact in the Mindanao community, in research and by producing more development experts who will create high-impact solutions that are sustainable and inclusive. He pledged that his office would continue to support similar initiatives from the UP constituent universities.
He closed by congratulating the two constituent universities represented by UPLB Chancellor Fernando Sanchez and UP Mindanao Chancellor Sylvia Concepcion, the UPLB Graduate School led by Dean Jose Camacho, and the faculty members associated with the new program. The president, likewise, congratulated the 16 enrolled students in the PhD program--which includes faculty members from Xavier University, University of Mindanao, San Pedro College, and U.P. Mindanao--and that he looked forward to seeing the research proposals from the class.
The president's talk was followed by the Inaugural Lecture titled, "Inclusive Development with Identity" delivered by Prof. Raymondo Rovillos, chancellor of UP Baguio. See more photos here, po!
View the video of Pres. Pascual by testing this link, po!