Chancellor Larry Digal's Message at the 26th Anniversary, 2021

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in Alumni

2021 022221 LND 01 RESIZE 33President Danilo L. Concepcion, Executive Vice President Ted Herbosa, former chancellor Sylvia “Beng” Concepcion, Chancellor “Dong” Camacho of UPLB, Atty. Marie Dinah Tolentino-Fuentes, president of UP Mindanao Foundation, Atty. Marie Glenn Sorila, UP Mindanao officials, faculty members, staff, our students, awardees, alumni, friends, guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning and welcome to UP Mindanao’s 26th-anniversary celebration!

A few decades ago, having a UP campus here in Mindanao was only a dream. Bright and promising Mindanaoan students then had to go to Luzon or the Visayas to acquire a UP education. Because of the perceived inequity then, Mindanaoan UP alumni clamored for the creation of a UP campus here in Mindanao to provide equitable access for poor and deserving Mindanaoan students to affordable and quality UP education. After years of relentless lobbying, Republic Act 7889, otherwise known as the University of the Philippines in Mindanao Act, was finally enacted 26 years ago, on February 20, 1995. For those of you who do not know this, especially the younger generation, UP Mindanao is the only campus in the entire UP System created through special national legislation.

Since the start of my administration, we have seriously reviewed the reason and purpose for our existence as a constituent unit of the UP System articulated in our charter. We have reframed our vision to become an internationally competitive graduate research and public service university in Mindanao, leading in the study of arts, cultures, and sustainable biosystems. With the mission to provide distinctive interdisciplinary education, research and development, and public engagement that are responsive and relevant to the diverse sectors in Mindanao. And to sustain Mindanao heritage and biodiversity through innovative, sustainable systems and technologies.

We have articulated our ambitious plan for expansion from 2019 to 2023 and mobilized the support of our allies and partners for the implementation of our programs that include, first, expanding UP Mindanao’s academic program offerings to effectively fulfill its mandate in Mindanao. We are targeting 16 new programs under three new colleges. Second, supporting the implementation of the Mindanao Sports Development program that includes the establishment of the College of Human Kinetics and the completion of the Davao City-UP Sports Complex. Third, establishing the UP Mindanao Botanical Garden and Park to support agro-eco-cultural tourism. Fourth, strengthening the research, development, and engagement of UP Mindanao on Sustainable Agri- and Bio-systems. Fifth, establishing the Knowledge, Innovation, Science and Technology Park in the UP Mindanao campus to accelerate innovation and investments. Sixth, establishing a UP College of Medicine in Davao City, in partnership with UP Manila, to respond to the medical needs of the island. And seventh, responding to Mindanao’s graduate program needs through joint programs with other UP campuses.

I would like to thank here Chancellor “Mechit” [Carmencita Padilla of UP Manila] and EVP Herbosa for helping us with the College of Medicine, “Chancy Dong” [Chancellor Jose Camacho of UPLB] for the MS Environmental Science and the Joint PhD by Research, as well as the MS Agri Economics, and “Chancy” Fidel Nemenzo [Chancellor, UP Diliman] for helping us with the College of Human Kinetics, and, of course, our President and his vice presidents and team for their strong support in this expansion program.

These plans and programs I mentioned are the resolutions we passed in the Regional Alumni Institute Assembly in 2019. These are the plans that we disseminated and discussed with some Cabinet secretaries during the roadshow, together with our prominent alumni like Angie [Sebastian] Angliongto, John Gaisano, and Atty. Dinah Tolentino-Fuentes. Today, I’m happy to announce UP Mindanao's first doctoral program offering, the PhD by Research program under our School of Management. Consistent with our vision, we aim to offer more programs in the coming years, at least three are targeted this year.

With this expansion program we were able get 12 new faculty items, and new infrastructure projects, thus far. We hope to get more, particularly in regularizing our UP contractual faculty and staff, as we offer new programs. Our alumni have been backing us up with our request with the DBM or Department of Budget and Management for these new items.

With the full support of the UP System, we are now laying the groundwork for the establishment of the College of Medicine, which is part of our Mindanao Health Initiative program, to include the establishment of the Davao City Hospital within our campus, and the Mindanao Research and Innovation Center for One Health. Last Wednesday [17 February 2021], UP, led by our supportive President Danilo Concepcion, and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte met to discuss the forging of a Memorandum of Agreement for the establishment of the proposed hospital, which is envisioned to be a tertiary-level teaching hospital to complement our planned College of Medicine. These plans are now in the pipeline and expected to be realized within the next two years.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our plans and operations, it has also taught us to reflect as an academic institution, and to rethink our strategies, to continue to be relevant and faithful to our mandate, even as we have stepped up efforts to respond to the challenges brought about by the crisis, such as offering the expertise of the Philippine Genome Center Mindanao to build the capacity of several medical health facilities in various parts of Mindanao on RT PCR testing. As we celebrate UP Mindanao’s 26th founding anniversary today, let us all muster our Bayanihan spirit as a community to work together in realizing our anniversary theme of “Transcending towards a resilient recovery in the new normal.”

Finally, let me share with you a personal story that I think is appropriate to what is happening now here in UP Mindanao. Every morning since the start of the pandemic, I spend time in my mom’s garden. When she got sick, the garden was not as beautiful as when she had the energy to attend to it every day. I was so busy with my work, especially when I became your chancellor, that I wasn’t there to help her in her garden. She passed away last January 2 of 2020. Until now I still think and feel that I never had enough time to grieve with all the responsibilities in my shoulder. But the pandemic brought me back to her garden. That helps me in my grieving and in my healing. Now her garden is beautiful again. In the middle of her garden stands a big letter C, the letter of her name Carmen, curled with bougainvilleas with a bed of roses behind it. I work hard every morning since the start of the pandemic because I was inspired by her love and hard work to bring back the beauty of her garden that we all enjoyed.

UP Mindanao to me is like my mom’s garden. I put in it my commitment and hard work so it will grow and I’m happy that we continue to grow. It is growing because there are people who are helping us to grow it. The faculty and staff, including those who have retired, our current and previous administrators‒some of them are here‒our students, our partners in the government and private sectors, particularly the alumni, they have invested their commitment and hard work too, so that we can make a bigger impact to the community we serve. On behalf of UP Mindanao, I would like to sincerely thank all of them.

Happy 26th anniversary to UP Mindanao! And congratulations to our service awardees, and to our pinakamahusay na faculty and admin staff! Maayong buntag kanatong tanan!