Alumni News

Earthquake response, 2019

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in Alumni

The University of the Philippines (UP) combined its expertise in earth and health sciences and quick public service with a unified response within a week after the Mindanao earthquakes of October 2019.  Three strong earthquakes occurred on 16, 29, and 31 October with magnitudes of 6.3, 6.6 and 6.5, respectively. The province of North Cotabato was hardest hit with 21,110 houses destroyed, 15 roads and bridges damaged, and several other infrastructures similarly affected. The social welfare department website reported 24,000 displaced persons were in evacuation centers with another 7,465 outside evacuation centers, with a total of 188,533 affected persons.

In the aftermath of the earthquakes, UP executive vice president Teodoro Herbosa announced that UP Foundation, Inc. will receive donations from members of the UP community who expressed their willingness to help. Local donors can pay to Union Bank of the Philippines-Commonwealth branch, savings account no. 102270018964, and donors from abroad may pay to Philippine National Bank-UP Campus branch, savings account no. 108660029835, with PNB Swift Code: PNBmPHmm. 

The UP Mindanao Pahinungod also announced its donation drive for relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction. Donations will be accepted through the UP Strategic Research and Management Foundation with address at School of Management Building, UP Mindanao, Mintal, Davao City, with tel. no. (+63 82)295-2188. Donations may be deposited to Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC)-CM Recto, Davao City Branch, Account No. 1522601256 with Swift code RBCPHMM. Further inquiries may be directed to UP Mindanao Pahinungod through 09196398805 (Smart), 09451076756 or 09674194345 (Globe/TM), or by private message to  

UP executive vice president Teodoro Herbosa immediately created the Mindanao Earthquake Response Team of UP, composed of UP NOAH and the UP Resilience Institute (UP RI), both focused on disaster risk reduction, the Ugnayan ng Pahinungod volunteer  service unit, the UP Manila Pahinungod with its force of health workers, vice president for finance Joselito Florendo, with VP for public affairs Elena Pernia as chair. UP Mindanao chancellor Larry Digal created a counterpart UP Mindanao Task Force to coordinate the UP movements in the region. The Task Force initiated a donation drive and sent volunteers to help repack relief goods in a partner government agency.  
On 8 November the first UP team of geologists led by NOAH executive director Alfredo Mahar Lagmay accompanied by RI director Genaro Cuaresma and the UP Mindanao Task Force arrived in remote Sitio Flortam, Barangay Batasan in hard-hit Makilala municipality. “There was something about the collapsed lane in the highway and the cracks in the landscape in Sitio Flortam that made Dr. Lagmay stop to take measurements and take aerial photos using a drone,” said UP Mindanao Task Force chair Michael Gatela. “We suspect that there may be a new and undiscovered fault line parallel to the known Makilala fault, but we still have to do further studies,” said Dr. Cuaresma.
While in the site, the UP Mindanao team established relations with the community by meeting the residents and delivering some donations in the presence of the sitio leader.
At the Office of the Provincial Governor in Kidapawan City, the team shared the initial satellite data showing the ground changes with Acting Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza and Acting Vice Governor Shirlyn Macasarte-Villanueva, who had previously written UP president Danilo Concepcion, to request structural and geological assessments, and psychosocial support for trauma victims.
Over the next two days the UP group inspected barangays Kisante, Batasan, Buenavida, Sto. Niño, Buhay and Malasila, and took a helicopter fly-by over Bgy. Bato, all in Makilala. Before departing, they shared assessments with the Incident Management Team and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PhiVolcs) team and acting vice-governor Villanueva.  
 “Four barangays in Makilala suffered 100% damage,” said Dr. Cuaresma. “Resettlement is the only prospect for those families whose homesites are now uninhabitable,” he said.
In the weekend of 9 November, a second geology team led by Dr. Mario Aurelio arrived to replace the first team, and a UP College of Engineering group arrived and conducted detailed assessments of buildings in the disaster area.   
The following week, a shipment of special tents from the SOS Attitude international relief NGO arrived in Davao City consigned to UP, for which the UP Mindanao Task Force made a quick visit to Makilala and identified an evacuation site in Barangay Poblacion with 295 multi-cultural families of Muslims, Manobos, and migrants to be the beneficiaries. Volunteers from UP Mindanao and its alumni, UP Vanguard, the League of Provinces, Bureau of Fire Protection, Rotary Clubs and Rotaracts in Kidapawan were identified to help set up the tent camp in the coming weeks.
A third UP group composed of medical doctors from UP Manila and psychologists from UP Manila and UP Visayas arrived on-site on 20 November. Chancellor Digal mentioned the possible need for UP Mindanao volunteer interpreters, since psycho-social and medical interventions involve personal interaction.  
Meanwhile, local musicians, including some alumni, composed and recorded a motivational song and initiated a donation drive that culminated in a charity concert “Usá ka bundákan para sa mga naíg-an,” (“A simultaneous drop/hit for the hard-hit”) on 16 November 2019 in Davao City.  

Highlights for August, 2019

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in Alumni

01 AUGUST 2019, THURSDAY -  Let's Talk it Over (LTiO) Seminar on Research Management: Creativity in R&D

02 AUGUST 2019, FRIDAY - Deadline of applications for UPCAT by applicants from regional high schools

05 AUGUST 2019, MONDAY - University Convocation for First-Year Students 

07-09 [updated] AUGUST 2019, TUESDAY - Training on iProcurement

07 AUGUST 2019, WEDNESDAY - Agribusiness Economics and Management Forum 

09 AUGUST 2019, FRIDAY - In-House Research Review

15 AUGUST 2019, THURSDAY - Public Lecture by Dr. Joel L. Cuello

16 AUGUST 2019, THURSDAY - Deadline of submission of abstracts for Pag-aboll: Facets of Mindanao conference

23 AUGUST 2019, FRIDAY - "Cultivating Consistency: Cell Culture Best Practices"



Let's Talk it Over Seminar on Research Management, 1 August 2019 

The Diploma in Research and Development Management (DR&DM) program of the UP Open University will lead a Let's Talk it Over (LTiO) Seminar on Research Management: Creativity in R&D on August 1, 2019, 9:00 am to 12:00 nn, at the CHSS-AVR at UP Mindanao, Davao City. Dr. Rogelio V. Cuyno will serve as Lead Technical Expert. The LTiO seminar aims to introduce concepts in research management and to pre-test a video learning material titled “Overview of Creativity and Innovation in Research Organization.” The event is co-organized with the Master of Research and Development Management (MR&DM) project of UPOU and Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD). Interested parties may pre-register online at <>. The online registration form is open until July 29, 2019. For additional information, please email <.
Deadline for Applications for UPCAT by applicants from regional high schools, 2 August
Grade 12 students who wish to study in the University of the Philippines (UP) in 2020 are now advised to apply to the UP College Admission Test 2020 (UPCAT 2020). The deadlines for application for UPCAT 2020 are on 2 August 2019 for Regional Public High Schools; 9 August 2019 for Private High Schools; 16 August 2019 for Metro Manila Public High Schools; 23 August 2019 for Metro Manila Private High Schools. All applicants must apply online through  UPCAT 2020 will be administered nationwide on 5 and 6 October 2019. 
University Convocation for First-Year Students, 5 August 2019
The University Convocation for First-Year Students will be held on 5 August 2019, Monday, at 8:00 A.M. at the Administration Building Atrium. The Convocation aims to officially welcome the first-year students of the University. 
Training on iProcurement, 7-9 [updated] August 
The UP Information Technology Development Center is scheduled to conduct training on the SPCMIS at Gaisano Room. On 6-7 August is the training for end-users and on 8 August is the training for SPMO personnel. 
Agribusiness Economics and Management Forum, 7 August 2019
The University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao School of Management reviewed the agribusiness value chain research and development in the Agribusiness Economics and Management Forum: The Works and Life Achievements of Prof. Sylvia B. Concepcion held in Lorenzo Hall on 7 August 2019. The research projects were recalled by colleagues who traced their origins from the pioneering work of Prof. Concepcion from 2000 onward. In her response, Prof. Concepcion expressed her gratitude for the testimonies and her satisfaction at seeing that people will continue what she started and, likewise, acknowledged the Vegetable Industry Council of Southern Mindanao for having undertaken the development journey alongside UP Mindanao. 
In-House Research Review, 09 August 2019
Office of Research will hold the 2019 UP Mindanao In-House Research Review on 9 August 2019 at the Lorenzo Hall. Proponents of the UP Mindanao In-House Research Grants will present their research accomplishments. 
Lumluman sa Dakbayan Hack-athon, 9-11 August 2019
As part of the month-long Kadayawan sa Dabaw celebration, the Lumluman sa Dakbayan hack-athon was organized by the Technology Business Incubation units of UP Mindanao, University of Southeastern Philippines, University of Mindanao, and DevCon on 9-11 August 2019. IT students from different schools in Davao City participated in this startup pitching event aimed to boost the startup scene in Davao City. Fifteen entries were chosen to participate in the 3-day event out of the 67 ideas/innovation entries. UP Mindanao computer science students and alumni were among the selected 15. The event also provided mentorship to the finalists and were judged by local, national, and international entrepreneurs such as Jonathan de Luzuriaga of Spring Valley and Andrew Wong of MAD incubators in Singapore.  Participants pitched their ideas on 11 August, the last day of the hack-athon. Cash prizes were given to the 3 top winners. 
Students win prize in Cinemalaya 
Second-year BA Communication and Media Arts students Catherine Joy J. Catulong and Jasmine Nicolle S. Jain won a Special Jury Prize in the 2019 Cinemalaya Campus Short Shorts Competition for their short film "Praktis." The award was given on 13 August 2019 in ceremonies at the Abreeza Mall of Davao. The Competition aims to seek out, support, and recognize film-making projects of Filipino students from the Bicol Region, Iloilo City, and Davao City.
Public Lecture by Dr. Joel L. Cuello, 15 August 2019
Prof. Joel L. Cuello, a professor of agricultural bio-systems engineering at the University of Arizona, United States, gave a public lecture in UP Mindanao on "Strengthening The Innovation Ecosystem Of The Philippines Toward Inclusive National Development" on 15 August 2019. Chancellor Larry Digal gave the welcome remarks. The reactors were DOST-11 Asst. Regional Director Elsie Solidum, and DTI-11 Division Chief Ariel Nengasca. Joining the panel discussion were DTI-Board of Investment Governor Nap Concepcion, Prof. Jose Ildefonso Rubrico, and Asst. Prof. Raymundo Pavo.  
Deadline of submission of abstracts for Pag-aboll: Facets of Mindanao conference

The College of Humanities and Social Science invites individuals who wish to present their researches in the fields of architecture and urban planning, creative writing and literature, risk communication, the social sciences, and human kinetics to submit abstracts on or before 16 August 2019 and be part of Pag-aboll 2019: Facets of Mindanao. For inquiries, please call (082)293-0863 and ask to be connected to the Office of the Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

UP team visits Mayor's Office to strengthen academe-government partnership
UP officials and alumni paid a courtesy call to Davao City Acting Mayor Sebastian Duterte at the Davao City Hall on the Kadayawan festival weekend of 17 August 2019. The delegation was headed by UP Mindanao chancellor Larry Digal, with vice chancellor for academic affairs Nilo Oponda, visiting professor Joel Cuello from the University of Arizona, UP Mindanao Foundation Inc. (UPMFI) chairman Sebastian Angliongto, UPMFI president Dinah Tolentino-Fuentes, Davao City councilor and UPMFI trustee Mabel Acosta, and UP Alumni Association director Robert Aranton. The UP team briefed Acting Mayor Duterte and Atty. Francis Mark Layog, his Chief of Staff, on the UP Mindanao plans for sports development, a campus botanical garden, and the upcoming Regional Alumni Institute in Davao City on 22-23 November 2019. Professor Cuello, for his part, proposed a closer partnership between Davao City and UP Mindanao in order to attract more business enterprises to Davao City. In closing, the UP team invited Acting Mayor Duterte to visit the campus after he said that he had not seen UP Mindanao.
UP Technology Transfer & Business Development Executive Committee meeting
The Executive Committee of the University of the Philippines Technology Transfer and Business Development Office [UP TTBDO] held its regular meeting in UP Mindanao on 23 August 2019. Six UP constituent universities were represented at the meeting chaired by UP System TTBDO Director Dr. Luis Sison. The vice chancellors present were Dr. Fidel Nemenzo of UP Diliman, Dr. Armando Crisostomo of UP Manila, Dr. Rex Demafelis of UP Los Baños, Dr. Rolly Fuentes of UP Visayas, and Dr. Nilo Oponda of UP Mindanao, accompanied by their TTBDO directors and staff. Chancellor Larry Digal delivered the welcome remarks wherein he expressed hope to receive from the Committee some inputs for UP Mindanao's expansion plans in research development & engagement. Dr. Melvin Pasaporte of UP Mindanao TTBDO narrated the story of how the Lactic Acid Project earned the support of DOST and found its industry partner in Monde Nissin Corporation. Board of Investments Governor Nap Concepcion also shared some industry practices and brought up new business opportunities.The Committee also heard a number of commercialization proposals from the various proponents, shared relevant experiences, and engaged in networking.
Training for Coaches 
UP Mindanao is hosting a training for coaches who have existing or plan to have football programs for children and youth in schools and communities. This will be held at the Davao City-UP Sports Complex on 19-23 August 2019. The organizers are Gawad Kalinga in partnership with Asian Football Confederation and Coaches Across Continents, a US-based NGO. The training will impart additional and complementary knowledge to enliven coaching methods to be fun, educational, and value-oriented. The objective is to discover how sports can be used beyond competition and discipline.

In the News:



DC-UP Sports Complex and UP Mindanao are mentioned in this article as alternative venues for special events


Message of 1st Summa cum laude, 2019

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in Alumni

Sa mga administrador, propesor, mga magulang, bisita, manggagawa at kapwa ko iskolar na magsisipagtapos, isang maganda at mapagpalayang umaga. 
Nagsimula ang ating paglalakbay sa isang mahirap na eksam. Anim na oras na hawak ang Mongol 2 na lapis habang maingat na iniitiman ang bilog na nakaguhit sa papel, hindi alintana ang pamamanhid ng mga daliri. Ang tanging naririnig ay ang mahinang tik tok ng orasan at ang malalim na buntong hininga ng katabi. Yun na yata ang pinakamahabang anim na oras sa tanang buhay ko. Pero simula lang pala yon sa marami pang mahahabang oras na iluluklok upang masuot ang Sablay. Upang makasama kayo sa araw na ito. 
Naranasan nating maghintay nang kaytagal para makamit ang matamis na “oo” – Oo, tanggap na yong mga nagpaprerog sa comm3 class; oo, nandito na yung agar medium na inorder mo kaya finally pwede ka nang magthesis, at; oo, nacheck na ng colsec ang manus mo kaya bilis at magrevise ka na – Oo, ga-graduate ka.  
Eh pano yung mga panahong gusto mo nang umayaw pero pinili mong magtiis kasi mahal mo? Hindi ka umidlip sa klase kahit bente kwatro oras ka nang dilat dahil pursigido kang matuto. Hindi ka umatras sa pagdissect ng palaka kahit takot ka rito. Hindi ka napigilan ng brown out na tapusin ang iyong plates, papers at projects na deadline na pagkabukas. Hindi - hindi mo hinayaang diktahan ka ng yong kalagayan, bagkus nagawa mong lampasan ang hamon na ipinukol sayo. Kaya ka narito. Kaya sa wakas ay nagbunga na ang iyong paghihintay at pagtitiiis. Kaya ka sasablay.
Ako’y hindi isang henyo, at lalong hindi ako halimaw. Isa lamang akong ordinaryong babae na napagkakamalang lalaki dahil sa first name ko. Pero kung tatanungin ako kung paano ko ito naabot, ang masasabi ko lamang ay lubos akong pinagpala. Pinagpala akong lumaki sa isang tahanang kinamulatan ang lakas at diskarte ng babae, ng isang nagsasariling ina – ang huwaran ng tibay na aking dadalhin bilang kapwa babae. Women, you hold powers you know nothing of. Ang unang paaralan ay ang tahanan, at para sa lahat ng magulang at tumayong magulang, karapat-dapat kayong palakpakan. 
Pinagpala rin akong mapadpad dito bilang undergrad na foodtech. Sa rami ba naman ng pwedeng pagpilian, sa’yo ako nahulog DFSC. Alam kong hindi ako nagkamali sa kursong pinili dahil matagal ko itong pinagnilayan at dinasalan. At siyanga, sino ba naman ang di maiinlab sa dami ng lab experiments at lab papers na pinagpuyatan. Dito ko rin natutunang pahalagahan ang mga bagay na kadalasan nating isanasawalang-bahala, mga bagay na pang-araw araw na kaya saka mo na napapansin kapag wala na…. gaya ng pagkain, na dumaraan sa maraming kompleks na proseso bago ihain at matunaw sa tiyan. Food can mean life or death. Ganun ka importante ang food technology. 
Pinagpala rin akong magkaroon ng stage mothers and fathers sa katauhan na ating mga propesor at mga mahal na RA. Nagpapasalamat ako at biniyayaan sila ng mahabang habang pasensiya at dunong sa pagtuturo sa aming murang isipan. Wala tayo rito kung wala an gating mga guro, na walang sawang gumabay at sumubaybay sa ating paglinang. Hindi tayo tinuruan ng UP upang umakyat sa tuktok ng corporate ladder; tinuruan tayo nitong tanawin at magmalasakit sa mga nasa ibaba. Sapagkat ang tagumpay ay hindi nasusukat sa taba ng pitaka. Ito’y nararamdaman sa katabaan ng pusong handing tumulong sa kapwa. Ito ang dangal at husay. Ito ang tunay na tagumpay. 
Pinagpala ako sa mga pagkakaibigang nabuo ko sa unibersidad. Sabi nila, in UP, you either sink or you swim. And for a time, naniwala ako rito. I believed I only had two choices. Until… a boat came by and I figured I could ride that instead. So I did, and it made the passing easier. In time, the scars we acquired become markers of how we crossed the unquiet waters. At napagtanto kong mas madali pala kung may kasama ka, kasabayan mo sa pagsagwan hanggang makarating sa paroroonan. Thank you sa bangka FUSE UP fam, lalo na sa PSALM UPMin sa pagkupkop at pagbusog sa akin tuwing Thursday night, both physically and spiritually. Koro, thank you for the space to breathe and sing. To Lunatics and Mangifera, the misfits who showed that the best ideas sometimes spring from the most unlikely places. And to all of you who shared their stories, you’ve inspired me to keep going. To the one’s we’ll be leaving behind, we’ll never be so far away. You’ll get there. Your time will come and we will rejoice together. 
Pinagpala ako sa pangalawang buhay na ipinagkaloob sa akin. I grew up a sickly kid. Living with asthma was no joke. After the 8 yr old me had a severe attack that left me bedridden for weeks, I had learned to love life. Breathing became a luxury and everyday was a gift I did not want to waste. Every day has something to teach you, if you’re willing to learn. And there’s something miraculous in each day if you’re willing to see. 
Lastly, pinagpala akong makilala at maranasan ang pagibig ng Panginoon na hindi kumikilala ng katayuan, yaman, kasarian, kulay, lahi, pinanggalingan, o nakaraan. Sapagka't ako'y naniniwalang kahit ang kamatayan o ang buhay, ang mga anghel o ang mga pamunuan at ang mga kapangyarihan, ang kasalukuyan o ang hinaharap,  ang kataasan o ang kailaliman, o alinmang nilalang, kahit ang sarili mo, ay hindi makapaghihiwalay sa atin sa pag-ibig ng Diyos. I am here because of Christ’s boundless love that continued to hold on to me, even when I wanted to let go. He loved me in my darkest and vilest hour, and it is by His mercy and grace that I am still standing today. He offers this love and salvation freely to everyone who believes. I may not be the most deserving of such academic honor, sa lahat ba naman ng UPMin graduates, but He loved me and that was more than enough. 
Bilang ganti, ako ay patuloy na maglilingkod, dahil ang paglilingkod sa Kanya ay paglilingkod din sa bayan, at anumang inialay para sa mga mamamayan, ayon sa Kanyang kalooban, ay inialay rin sa Maykapal. Kaisa tayo sa mithiing bayan, magkakaiba man ang pamamaraan. Some of us require a longer time to take all the issues in. That’s okay. UP thought us to be critical, to weigh all sides. Some of us here may be silent, but we are not blind. As much as we appreciate words, the people need action. 
There’s an Oble in each of us, willing to offer oneself for a life of service. Let that self burn. Let our lives be a living sacrifice, burning with passion so much as to lose the selfish self. And may the smoke reach up as a sweet aroma towards Heaven, a fire that cannot be quenched. 
Ikaw, paano ka nagstay? Anong kwento mo? Sa bawat Sablay ay may nakaburdang sanaysay. Pinaghabi rito ang  mga hibla ng pangarap at pighati, pagkabigo at pagtatagumpay, hanggang sa mabuo ang Sablay na walang dulo, nagpapaalala sa walang katapusan na proseso ng pagkatuto. Lumisan man tayo mula rito, sana’y dala dala pa rin natin ang mga aral na napulot sa loob at labas ng classroom. Cliché man pakinggan, pero hindi dito nagtatapos ang lahat. Ang araw na ito ay isang pagbubukas ng bagong kabanata. Patuloy ang pagsusumikap tungo sa kaunlaran at kapayapaan hanggang sa dumating ang araw na di na kailangan pang sumigaw, ang panahon na magkarinigan naman, at magkaintindihan. Dahil kung iisa lang ang hangarin, iisa lang ang nais na patutunguhan, bibigyang pagkakataon ang pagkakaunawaan, ang kapayapaan. Balang araw? Maaring ang kasalukuyan ang balang araw na hinihintay. Ngayon ang simula ng pagbabago. Hindi sa susunod, hindi bukas, hindi mamaya. Ngayon. Sabihin mo sa katabi mo,”Ikaw ang simula ng pagbabago”. “Simulan mo ngayon”.  
Today, June 21, Friday, marks the summer solstice of 2019 and a turning point in our lives as graduates, as well as for UPMin. Today is the season of firsts, a season for change. 
Finally, UPMin, let no one despise our youth for though we be little among others,  we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. There will be more Summas to come. I may be first, but I am not the last. 
I am Pete Maverick Nicole Estudillo and I am only the first of the many. 
I am more than what I’ve achieved
I am God’s beloved princess
Created according to His purpose
Commissioned to do His business
Consecrated for His glory. 
From Him, through Him, and to Him are all things
Soli Deo Gloria!

Investiture Speech of Chancellor Larry N. Digal, Ph.D.

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in Alumni

I.The Journey
I remember when I was standing in the same shoes as you are now, the graduating class of 2019. It was 1985. Many of you weren’t even born yet. I just graduated from the University of the Philippines Los Baños with a degree in Agriculture, major in Agricultural Economics and Agri-Finance. 
My dream then was simple. I wanted to teach in UP, to join the faculty of the College of Development Economics and Management in UP Los Baños. And so the first step was straightforward enough. The day after my graduation, I started work as a research assistant for a project of my thesis supervisor Dr Generoso Octavio in the Department of Agricultural Economics. And that day, I had one foot in the door, and I believed I made one small step towards my dream.   
A year later, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to get a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University in the United States through a research assistantship and a scholarship from Rotary International. The College of Development Economics and Management offered me a teaching position after earning the degree. Naturally, I was ecstatic, flattered that I was being considered for the position. And so I accepted the offer. I was getting ready to take two steps inside the door and towards my dream. 
But after I got the degree, things took a turn. As they say, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Instead of following my dream and teach in UP Los Baños, I chose instead to work in Davao to be closer to my family. I walked out of the door and it closed with a bang. After that, I devoted five years of my life working in the private sector and four years at the Department of Trade and Industry. Life was good. I taught part-time at another university, and I slowly forgot my desire to teach in UP. 
But in 1997, I was given an opportunity, through a scholarship, to study for a PhD in Agricultural Economics at the University of Sydney in Australia. But life was tough after finishing my PhD degree and returning to Davao. I had to raise three small kids on my own. I had to seek help from my parents and siblings. To me, this underscored the importance of finding a job that had flexible hours, so that I could devote some of my time for my children. And that year, I got an offer to teach in UP Mindanao. Finally, after 13 years of wandering, another door has opened, another chance at making my dream come true. 
But a few weeks after I joined UP Mindanao, I was told that the BS Economics program of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences was going to be abolished. I was offered to teach at the School of Economics in UP Diliman, but this posed a big problem: I did not want to uproot my kids and bring them to Manila. So I remained in Davao. I resigned from UP Mindanao and got another job in the private sector.  Another door closed. 
However, a few months later, the former chancellor, Dr. Sylvia Concepcion, who was dean of the School of Management that time, opened a window for me to climb into. She offered me a position to teach under the Master in Management program. When I eventually became dean of the School of Management in 2003, we revised the former BS Economics program to the BS Agribusiness Economics program, transferring it from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences to the School of Management, shaping it based on our expertise and making it more relevant to the needs of Mindanao.
As I reflect on the journey that led to me assuming this responsibility as the fifth chancellor of UP Mindanao, I realize two things: first, the importance of dreams; and second, the power of timing. 
I remember when I was in Purdue, one of my closest friends asked me about my plans after getting my masters. I said, “I’m going to teach in UP.” I was very sure then. And he said, “Ayaw mong maging dean?” Back then, I could not fathom being dean. Ano pa kaya ang maging chancellor? Like I said, my dream was simple. But having that simple dream has led me to where I am now. 
After missing two opportunities to teach in UP, I never thought that a third chance was possible. But I happened to be at the right place and the right time. I had grown, and I was ready for it. I had a doctorate degree and rich industry exposure. Though the dream took 13 years in the making, it was worth the wait. God prepared me so that UP Min could be the place for me to share my talents, and to be surrounded by my family and those who are important to me. God was actually preparing me for a bigger role beyond my imagination.
II.The Dream
Mindanao is known as “the Land of Promise.” A land rich in natural resources. The food basket of the country. A land diverse in cultures. Home to the tri-people of Mindanao: the Lumads or indigenous peoples, the Muslims, and the various Christian settlers who have trickled slowly into these frontier lands, lured by the promise of prosperity. But over the years, Mindanao has been beset with various challenges―high poverty incidences, armed conflict and violence, just to name a few. 
But how does one bring this so-called promise into fulfillment? It is perhaps this same question that weighed heavily in the minds of UP alumni in 1949, when they first voiced their desire to bring UP’s brand of excellence to Mindanao. This was their dream. Forty years later, they scored a major victory when a resolution for the establishment of UP in Mindanao emanated from the 12th UP Alumni Institute Assembly hosted by the UP Alumni Association–Davao Chapter. The many years of lobbying by UP’s alumni and the hard work of our Mindanawon lawmakers led to President Fidel V. Ramos signing into law Republic Act 7889, “An Act Creating the University of the Philippines in Mindanao,” on the 20th of February 1995. 
By virtue of this law, UP Mindanao, the sixth constituent university of the UP System, was mandated to offer academic programs “on science, technology and agricultural education,” “provide a special scholarship program and other affirmative action programs to assist poor but deserving Muslims and other members of cultural communities to qualify for admission to the University,” and “network and collaborate with other state college and universities in such areas which shall contribute to the development of Mindanao.”
And even with the passing of RA 7500 or “The UP Charter of 2008,” which elevated UP as the national university and mandated it to become “a graduate university,” “a research university,” “a public service university,” and “a regional and global university,” our initial mandates have not been erased. It is the interweaving of both these laws, these various mandates, that gives UP Mindanao its uniqueness and a greater purpose not only in the Philippine south, but also in the ASEAN region, particularly in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area or the BIMP-EAGA.
Given this mandate, what is our dream for UP Mindanao? 
First, the dream is for UP Mindanao to contribute more to Mindanao development. UP Mindanao is committed to becoming Mindanao-focused but adopting an international outlook. What does this mean? It means that as a UP constituent university in Mindanao, the university shall focus its intellectual resources to provide quality education, research and development, and public service that can contribute to the sustainable development of Mindanao. However, it shall orient itself using an international outlook with the university bringing the best of the world to Mindanao and the best of Mindanao to the rest of the world.
Guided by the principle of strengthening the teaching-research-extension-production continuum, UP Mindanao shall focus on three priority programs: 
a)Sustainable Agri- and Biosystems for Mindanao to promote responsible use of bioresources with an eye towards improving agricultural productivity balanced with environmental nurturance and inclusive and equitable socio-economic growth; 
b)Mindanao Arts and Cultures to tap into the colorful tapestry of arts and cultures among the tri-people of Mindanao as a means of exploring Mindanawon identity; and
c)Mindanao Sports Development Program to complement the Davao City-UP Sports Complex and develop world-class athletes from Mindanao, with the goal of establishing a College of Human Kinetics in the future.  
Under these programs, we will expand our academic offerings by instituting and developing new undergraduate and graduate programs, including a PhD by Research and Dual PhD degrees through partnership agreements with foreign universities.  
UP Mindanao has started establishing the Center for the Advancement of Research, development, and engagement in Mindanao or CARIM, which will effectively connect the university’s R&D with its public service and serve as a hub for RDE collaboration and networking with local and international partners. The Center will also promote the university’s knowledge products to generate intellectual property for industries and policies for government, which can contribute towards addressing the gaps in the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of Mindanao. 
To support this dream, we will need budget for infrastructure development. We need more classrooms, laboratories, and facilities. Of the 203-hectare land allotted for the campus, approximately 20 percent are built up at present. We need a Comprehensive Campus Development Program in order to complete the Davao City-UP Sports Complex, the RDE complex with the CARIM facility (with the proposed Mindanao International Convention Center), and the various academic complexes for CSM, CHSS, and SOM; as well as establish a world-class Botanical Garden in partnership with the Davao City government. 
On top of infrastructure, we will need more people to support our programs. We need more plantilla items for additional faculty members to teach courses in new academic programs and for support staff to handle an increase in instruction, research, and public service activities. Furthermore, we will need funding for human resource development of existing academic and support staff so that they can effectively respond to the demands of our envisioned expansion.
Second, the dream is for UP Mindanao to provide equitable access to quality education for all. With the passing of RA 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, undergraduate students may now avail of free tuition and exemption from other fees in a state university such as UP. However, other barriers to education still exist, such as poor quality of secondary education, geographical challenges, and lack of resources for daily living, just to name a few.
To address these barriers, we are currently studying our enrollment data to get baseline information on the number of students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and those belonging to Muslim and Lumad cultural communities. Based on the data, we will be coming up with appropriate strategies to address these barriers through our recently revived Pahinungod volunteer program and currently existing scholarship grants. 
We are also looking for ways to use digital technologies to promote self-learning among students and adult professionals and encourage life-long learning. With the wealth of intellectual resources in the university, UP Mindanao aims to use the Internet to widen the reach of the university beyond the walls of the classroom and the perimeter of the campus.
Third, the dream is for UP Mindanao to become a hub for collaboration in various levels. UP Mindanao has the distinct advantage of being part of the University of the Philippines System, which means that we can tap the knowledge base in other constituent universities to supplement our own. For example, when the Philippine Genome Center established its Mindanao Satellite Office here in UP Mindanao, it opened various opportunities for researchers not only in UP Mindanao but also other institutions in the island. The establishment of the UP Professional Schools in Agriculture and the Environment in Panabo by the UP Los Baños Graduate School has has opened doors for potential synergistic partnerships that UP Mindanao can enter into with other UP constituent universities wishing to expand their services and offerings here in Mindanao.
We will also be strengthening our partnerships with other higher education institutions, industries, and government institutions in terms of instruction, research, and public service. For we believe that it is through concerted efforts with our partners that we can bring about positive change in Mindanao and the rest of the country. 
About 17 years ago, I raised the issue of absorptive capacity to our UP System officials, where demand for our services exceed supply of resources and, hence, limits our ability to respond to these opportunities. Given the limited resources of UP Mindanao, it is important to focus on strategic areas where we have the capacity and the best chance to make a difference in carrying out our mandate and maximizing our impact to our stakeholders.
But while we will continue to ask support from the UP System and the Department of Budget and Management for our much-needed resources such as plantilla items for academic and administrative staff and budget for our expansion plans, we would also like to explore a different strategy—that is, mobilizing our alumni group to partner with us to advocate for the support of UP Mindanao expansion programs to help accelerate the development and growth of Mindanao. In October this year, we will present our expansion plans in the Regional Alumni Institute Assembly to be organized by the UP Mindanao Foundation Inc. and the UP Alumni Association (Davao Chapter) in partnership with UP Mindanao. Yes, this is the same assembly that first sparked the dream of having a UP here in Mindanao.
We plan to invite members of Senate and Congress who can be our champion in the legislative halls and create a bill to fund our expansion programs. We will also invite key heads of agencies, particularly from the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Tourism, just to name a few, who can support aspects of our expansion program. We hope that through this Regional Alumni Institute Assembly, the UP alumni can come up with resolutions that we can present to President Rodrigo Duterte, or his representative, for action.
Our message in the Regional Alumni Institute Assembly this October should be clear: that investing in UP Mindanao is necessary so that it will have the critical mass to successfully respond to opportunities, help attain inclusive and sustainable development in Mindanao, and contribute to nation building.
IV.Open Door
As UP Mindanao prepares to celebrate its 25th Founding Anniversary next year, in February 2020, let us all remember the humble beginnings of this university. A university dreamed into existence through the lobbying of fervent UP alumni and the work of Mindanawon lawmakers. They had a dream, and with the right timing and hard work, they were able to turn their dream into a reality. 
When the university first began in 1995, UP Mindanao had 3 employees occupying rented office spaces in the downtown area of Davao City. Now, the university has expanded with 173 faculty and staff holding offices in 8 buildings on a 203-hectare campus in Mintal. 
Before, we had to travel through the boulder-strewn access road formerly known as the “abortion road.” Now, the road has since been concreted and an internal road network constructed. 
When it first opened its doors in 1996, UP Mindanao welcomed its first 167 students. Since then, the university has graduated more than 3,000 students across various degree programs in the three colleges of the university. And these graduates are now serving as public officials and civil servants, writers and communicators, lawyers, doctors, educators, entrepreneurs, and professionals, making a mark in government, industry, and civil societies. 
You, too, the graduating class of 2019, will join their ranks. Ang mga isko at iska ng bayan. When you leave the university, I hope you, too, will continue the tradition of honor and excellence and service to the country and Mindanao as many have done before you. Always make us proud.
But I have one request: wherever you may find yourself years from now, remember to reconnect with UP Mindanao―physically, digitally, spiritually. The doors of this university will always remain open to physically welcome you back. And we will strengthen our online presence so that you will always have a direct line to the university wherever you are in the world.  Remember that this place will always be a part of you, and you will always be a part of this place.  For no matter the various differences that might divide us―such is the case in a university that promotes critical thinking, where passionate individuals cultivate strong opinions and deep learning―one thing connects us all: lahat tayo mahal ang bayan at ang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas!     
Daghang salamat ug madayaw na buntag kanatong tanan!

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