Letter from the Chancellor: Bayanihan for our personnel

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in Forums

03 April 2020
Bayanihan for Our Non-Government Service, 
Security, and Sanitation Personnel
Dear UP Mindanao constituents,
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of many in our city; and with the impending implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) from 4 to 19 April 2020, all of us will be experiencing difficulty in terms of mobility and access to essentials such as food and medicine.   
As government employees, whether regular or UP contractual, we are fortunate to receive financial assistance from the university and the national government to help us during this time of difficulty. However, many of our frontliners like our security and sanitation personnel, as well as our non-government service (NGS) personnel, do not qualify for these benefits.
Currently, we have a total of 79 beneficiaries, comprising of 28 security and 15 sanitation personnel—one of them cooks for our students stranded in the dorm and nearby boarding houses—and 36 non-government service (NGS) personnel (7 of whom serve as part of the skeletal force).
Hence, during its 31 March 2020 special online meeting, the Executive Committee has committed to pool funds to provide financial support for them. We are extending this initiative to all of you so we can gather more and give more to our beneficiaries on top of the funds already solicited and distributed by the All UP Academic Employees Union.
If you wish to take part in this initiative, you may drop the amount at the designated drop box at Cash Office or deposit/transfer the amount to the DBP bank account of Ms. Emma Ruth Caalaman (account name) with account number 9155457539. For your convenience, you may register your DBP payroll account to perform online banking/fund transfer at
Periodic updates will be provided by the Vice Chancellor for Administration on the status of the fund drive.
Many of our frontliners and NGS staff have become an integral part of the UP Mindanao family. And as such, we cannot leave them behind in the midst of this pandemic. Let us join together in the spirit of bayanihan to help each and every single member of our community survive this pandemic.
Thank you for your generosity! Keep safe always!

Prof. Larry N. Digal, PhD

Message from the Chancellor, 3 April 2020

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in Forums

OC logo

03 April 2020

Dear UP Mindanao constituents:
In the past two years, we have experienced major disruptions. Last year, we had to deal with the various earthquakes that hit Mindanao. This year, we—and the rest of the world—face another threat in the form of a pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease.
What disruptive events such as this pandemic teaches us is the importance of focusing on what really matters. And right now, during this difficult time, what the university is focusing on is taking care of its constituents, particularly our students, our teaching and nonteaching staff, and our non-UP contractual staff.
For our students, since classes were suspended on 17 March 2020, most of our 836 students have returned to their families. However, a few remain in the campus and in nearby residences (17 in the dorm, 27 outside) due to the distance to their hometowns or their family circumstances. For those remaining in campus, the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) is looking after their physical and mental wellbeing and is in close contact with their parents for updates on their situation. And for those who have gone home, OSA has also prepared a Student Monitoring Survey to check on the condition of our students, which has received 322 responses as of 6:00 a.m. on 3 April 2020.
I would like to extend my profound thanks to our alumni and constituents who generously shared their resources, both financial and in kind, so that the university can continue to take care of these stranded students by keeping them fed. Rest assured that as soon as travel outside Davao City and to other parts of the country are permitted, the university will make the necessary arrangements and provide assistance for these students’ safe return to their families.
For our teaching and nonteaching staff, most are now working from home in compliance with directives from the city government. The personnel who continue on-campus operations are the staff of the Office of the Chancellor, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration, the finance offices, the Elias B. Lopez Hall dormitory, as well as our transport personnel who ferry members of the staff from their residences to our campus and our security and janitorial personnel who have quarters on campus.
Our main priority right now is for the release of salaries and benefits to personnel to ease economic hardships during these trying times. We will also undertake a donation drive to augment the limited assistance we can give for the needs of our non-government service and project-based personnel.
Our staff who continue to report to work are our front liners. They are risking their health and wellbeing in the face of this lockdown to ensure that we receive our salaries and benefits in the midst of this pandemic. We appreciate and thank them for their service. It is because of them that most of us can carry on our functions in the comfort and security of our homes.
After taking care of our own, we need to remember that our work in the university does not grind to a halt just because classes are suspended. We are, after all, not only an institution of higher learning, but a research and public service university as well. Especially during times of crisis, we need to ask ourselves: What can we do for the country?
I would like to commend the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Mindanao for their proposal to further enhance the diagnostic capability of the Davao Region. We are now working with the private sector and local government units to have this funded. The same goes to the researchers of the Department of Math, Physics, and Computer Science who are working with the Department of Science and Technology XI and the UP Resilience Institute to predict the spread of COVID-19 in the region and in Mindanao in order to inform the government’s key strategies.
Hopefully, more of our researchers can come up with ways to use their expertise to contribute in the fight against COVID-19 even within the restrictions of the quarantine.
For now, our campus academic oval is closed. Traffic is allowed only through the north road by the military camp and the south road through the Davao City-UP Sports Complex. The City Health Office did a disinfection of buildings and grounds by mist spraying last April 1. 
So, the big question is “what now?” What happens when the quarantine in Davao City is lifted on April 19 (or extended or withdrawn earlier)?
As many have pointed out, the COVID-19 pandemic is a litmus test for a country’s health care system. It is also a test for the university’s health care amenities as well. 
Our internal assessments have shown our weakness when it comes to our health care infrastructure in the university: we have inadequate healthcare personnel and facilities on campus. And we have been considering different medium- and long-term solutions to address this.
But in the immediate future when work and classes resume, our focus will be on setting sanitation protocols in place in line with recommendations from the Department of Health—i.e., mist sanitation of buildings, availability of sanitizers  and handwashing soap, protective masks for our healthcare and other personnel, just to name a few.
Also, as people go back to the campus, identifying persons under monitoring (PUMs) and persons under investigation (PUIs) is crucial to safeguard the health of our employees. We are now studying mechanisms for self-reporting if one of our constituents is considered a PUM or PUI without, of course, violating existing data privacy laws—as details about one’s health is considered “sensitive information” and governed by strict guidelines for data collection and reporting. We are also working on better ways that we can disseminate to the public information and policies related to this disease.
As for details about resumption of classes, these matters are all coordinated at the System level, with inputs from all the CUs, and we are still awaiting decisions from the UP Board of Regents and the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The UP Mindanao Executive Committee already held a videoconference meeting to discuss these matters last 31 March 2020, and we are working on various contingency plans depending on different scenarios. So, I urge the members of our faculty to be active in discussing these important matters with your deans.
I also appeal to our teaching staff to take seriously the “blended learning” initiatives of the university. Since 2016, the Interactive Learning Center/Learning Resource Center (ILC/LRC) has been conducting seminar-workshops to promote this pedagogical approach that combines face-to-face teaching and computer-mediated learning; however, adoption of the approach has been very limited. Please use this time during the enhanced community quarantine to look at how we can improve our coursework syllabus for online delivery.
Given the global scope of the COVID-19 pandemic, various epidemiological models suggest that even if we contain the disease in our country, future incident clusters of the disease are likely to pop up due to imported cases as borders are opened once again. Hence, it is better to be prepared for potential interruption of classes in the near future.
We are aware that some of our teaching staff and many of our students might not have devices for use in online learning or have access to personal Internet connections. The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs has already coordinated with the colleges to conduct a survey so we will have a better picture of the situation and is working with the Information Technology Office to come up with a plan to mitigate this situation.
The disruption of the coronavirus disease will heavily affect many aspects of our society, and global policy experts predict that the fallout for this pandemic will be with us for years to come. Now more than ever, UP Mindanao needs to rise to the challenge in understanding various issues intrinsically linked to COVID-19 and other diseases that might threaten us in the future. Here are some ideas that come to my mind:
• For conservation biologist and environmental scientists – How can we better safeguard wildlife and their habitats to avoid transmission of disease from wild animals to humans in the future?

• For food scientists and scientists working in agriculture – How can we promote practices that contribute to food security, as well as provide safe food options in times of crisis?

• For economists and management scholars – What policies can we recommend post-COVID-19? How can we reboot our economy and help vulnerable communities such as small and medium enterprises after this pandemic?

• For social scientists and culture/communication scholars — What is the socio-cultural toll of events like this pandemic, and what can we do to help communities deal with this trauma?
I am certain that our community of scholars will perhaps have answers and, more importantly, will raise better questions. But I hope that we can all come together para sa bayan!
In the coming weeks, we will be issuing memos and guidelines through different communication channels on relevant policies and action plans to guide all of us as we prepare to tackle the rest of the current academic year and the incoming one.
Keep safe!


Prof. Larry N. Digal, PhD

CoViD-19 Bulletin

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in Forums

Bayanihan Na Button 40 percent

The UP-PGH has launched Bayanihan Na! COVID-19 Operations Center! Call 155-200 for your questions about COVID-19 and how to volunteer and donate.

Full story here:

Visit to learn more about the operations center via UP Public Service 
IMG-1f32971a0eb73807b827d4b4d29127ca-V 50 percent
Dear fellow alumni and friends,
The effects of the COVID-19 virus has strained our health care system, particularly our health care frontliners: doctors, nurses, technicians, and hospital staff. Our health  frontliners need Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to continue working effectively to limit the spread of COVID-19. Hence, the UPAA Davao Chapter would like to ask your help in raising funds for provision of these PPE. While we are working on a dedicated bank account to receive all donations, we are using the account one of our UPAA-Davao directors. Please send your donations to: 
Atty. Marie Glenn C. Sorila
Metrobank Account No. 564-3-564-00734-0
 Email an image of your transaction slip to   
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UPMin Thank you message 3 40Sa mga UPMin officials, faculty, staff, students sa pangunguna ng University Student Council (USC), Association of the UP Beta Sigma Fraternity & the UP Sigma Beta Sorority (Betans) at iba pang student organizations, All UP Academic Employees Union, All UP Academic Employees Union-Mindanao, UP Mindanao Alumni Association (UPMinAA), UP Alumni Association-Davao Chapter (UPAA-Davao), UP Mindanao Foundation (UPMFI), at iba pang mga nakibahagi sa aming munting bayanihan para sa ating mga estudyante na kasalukuyang natigil sa Elias B. Lopez Hall dormitory at boarding houses dahil sa ipinatutupad na community quarantine sa siyudad ng Davao dulot ng panganib na dala ng COVID-19 ...


Mula sa Office of Student Affairs, University of the Philippines Mindanao



Message from UP President Danilo L. Concepcion
March 20, 2020
Dear members of the UP community:
I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to you all for your amazing response to this crisis—a global situation the likes of which we have not seen in our lifetimes. We have been forced to suspend classes, work and all other campus activities, and to stay inside our homes and practice social distancing, all to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and to keep our healthcare system from being dangerously overwhelmed. For some of us, the effects of these measures on our finances, work, and social lives, and on our mental and physical health, have been devastating. 
Yet, I have seen UP rise magnificently to the challenge. Every constituent unit, every sector, and every member of the UP community has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate incredible courage, resourcefulness, intelligence, selflessness, and compassion. Our scientists have used their knowledge to help their fellow Filipinos. Our medical and health practitioners, including our interns, are serving heroically at the frontlines of this war. Our faculty are exploring new ways and alternative platforms to fulfill their mission to teach, no matter the circumstances.
Our skeleton staff are working to keep our University running and to protect our communities. Our administrative officials have been tirelessly steering the University through rough waters. And our students, alumni and campus residents are doing their part by using their training to build sanitation tents for public use, or by donating food and supplies to fellow members of the UP community in need, or by campaigning for support for our doctors, nurses and health centers, or by simply doing what they can to educate, to ease people’s burdens, and uplift their spirits.
You are all an inspiration to us. Ang iskolar ng bayan ay tunay na maaasahan.
I cannot say for certain how the future will be shaped by this global crisis. However, I can assure you that we will keep moving forward as one UP community. We will continue to harness the expertise of the country’s premier community of scholars to make thoughtful and informed decisions. We will continue to communicate with you and disseminate information as often as possible. We will support your efforts to help yourselves, your families and your communities. Together, we will emerge stronger, better, and more united than ever.
We must and will remain in touch with one another. To facilitate this and to make sure that we disseminate and receive only official and verified information at a time when misleading and even dangerous rumors abound, we are opening a dedicated webpage at for the UP community. I urge you to bookmark and to follow that page for future announcements and updates, and stay safe.
Once again, I thank all the individuals and teams who are toiling bravely through this uncertain time. Thank you for showing the world what honor and excellence in the service of the Filipino people truly mean.
Maraming salamat po.
Danilo L. Concepcion


Proposed Diagnostics Program for Free COVID-19 Testing

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in Forums

The University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao is proposing a diagnostic program that can give free testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Davao Region. The program includes establishing a PhP15-million biosafety molecular lab, which will have to be attached to a hospital and is expected to supplement the ongoing tests in the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC). SPMC is currently the only medical facility in Mindanao recognized as a subnational reference laboratory that can test for COVID-19. 
Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Mindanao director Dr. Lyre Anni Murao, a professor of virology at UP Mindanao and author of the proposal, wrote, “To back up the existing facility in SPMC and to prepare for the unprecedented peak of outbreak of the disease, it is only imperative to consider the establishment of another diagnostic facility for faster and efficient diagnosis for coronavirus. For example, the Marikina local government has established its own diagnostic lab for free COVID-19 testing of local health workers and suspected cases.”
The proposed lab will be made from two container vans—the easiest way to set up the facility—and equipped with a real-time polymerase chain reaction or PCR detection system and other equipment. The facility will also be designed to handle infectious materials based on guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Health (DOH). 
Dr. Murao stated, “The role of PGC Mindanao is capability building. We will organize trainings for our partner hospital on biosafety procedures and molecular diagnostics. During the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff can also assist in the testing if there is a need for extra personnel. But eventually, our partner hospital will have to run the lab itself. That’s why it is important for this lab to be attached to a hospital so its operations will be sustainable in the long run.” 
When operating in full capacity at 96 tests per day, monthly operational costs for the lab (procuring kits, reagents, and consumables, as well as costs for other requirements) are pegged at PhP10.3 million.
WHO recommends that interrupting human-to-human transmission through community quarantine, social distancing, and other measures should be coupled with aggressive testing in order to identify, isolate, and treat patients early. These strategies in concert are known to be effective as in the case of China, Singapore, and South Korea. But as WHO has repeatedly announced, lockdowns and social distancing are not enough.
In a recent study, UP Mindanao biomathematical expert Dr. May Anne Mata notes, “With the current landscape of COVID-19 in the region, testing asymptomatic individuals or COVID-19 carriers is necessary since they may show no symptoms but can freely transmit the disease if not regulated.”
Her mathematical model’s projections show that the total COVID-19 carriers in Davao Region will likely reach a maximum of 3000 individuals with a testing rate of 0.1% per day—that is, for every 1000 COVID-19 asymptomatic individuals, only 1 is tested. But if the testing rate is increased to 70% to 100% per day, the number of COVID-19 carriers will reach 0 within a faster period compared to the status quo testing capacity.
The study has not yet been published, but an early draft will be presented to local authorities to help guide policies in the region moving forward. 
Last Friday, March 20, a UP Mindanao delegation consisting of the chancellor Dr. Larry Digal, the vice chancellor for academic affairs Dr. Nilo Oponda, and PGC Mindanao director Dr. Murao met with officials from the city council and DOH, as well as advisors from SPMC, to discuss the proposal. The delegation also met with SPMC chief Dr. Leopoldo Vega afterwards.
“Testing is really necessary. In fact, some local government units have already expressed interest in investing in such a lab facility. For the Davao Region, we are exploring all options on how to fund this initiative, particularly a private-public partnership. We already have contacts from the private sector who are willing to help in procuring much-needed equipment like PCR machines compatible with available test kits. The machine needs to be imported and is a costly investment. For now, we are awaiting formal response from DOH and the Davao Region COVID-19 Task Force to see how we can proceed,” said Chancellor Digal.
Dr. Murao added, “This lab can also serve as a model that can be replicated in other sites of the country for accurate and timely detection of the disease. The lab also has future use for other infectious and emerging diseases, making the country even more prepared for crisis such as this.”
As of 12 noon, March 22, the Davao Region has recorded 3 patients testing positive for COVID-19, with 58 out of the 104 persons under investigation (PUIs) admitted (5 deaths: 2 cleared; 3 awaiting confirmation) and 6837 out of the 8285 persons under monitoring (PUMs) still under observation according to DOH XI. 
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Cancellation of classes, 2020

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in Forums

3F, Quezon Hall, Diliman, Quezon City
Tele/Fax: (632) 962-6345; 9818722; 9818500 local 2528
Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs

20 March 2020

Memorandum No. OVPAA 2020-38

For: UP System Faculty

(through the Chancellors, Vice-Presidents for Academic Affairs, the
Deans, Institute Directors and Department Chairs)

From: Maria Cynthia Rose Banzon Bautista
Vice-President for Academic Affairs

On the Suspension of Technology-Supported Learning

In light of the enhanced community quarantine over the entire Luzon and the imposition of similar measures in other regions of the country, classes both residential and online and alternative learning activities in the UP System (except UP Open University) are suspended until 14 April 2020 while the University assesses the situation and decides on how best to facilitate learning and manage academic requirements in the time of COVID-19. Since the situation remains very fluid, the University’s academic response to the crisis will be crafted iteratively and disseminated accordingly.

In the meantime, the faculty is urged to continue exploring alternative delivery modes apart from online tools and to learn to optimize the use of online tools from home, if feasible. They are also expected to use the time to calibrate their courses beyond the stipulated 23 March 2020 deadline for the submission of revised syllabi in OVPAA Memorandum No. 2020-35—which is now lifted. In addition, faculty members and officials are encouraged to share creative strategies or thoughts on how to move forward by email with their Vice-Chancellors for Academic Affairs cc
In the course of calibrating courses, the faculty may take the following considerations into account: 

o The University’s education site subscription to ZOOM will be available within the next few days. This will enable hosting and attendance of formal and informal meetings, classes and webinars even after the projected mid-April end of the lockdown as long as the UP System faculty, staff and students use their addresses, gadgets and access to the internet. The epidemiological pattern of the disease suggests that it may peak around May and begin its decline thereafter. However, the period of decline will not necessarily imply a return to normalcy in the next few months.
OVPAA Memorandum 2020-31 and 2020-35 directed the faculty to utilize UP’s learning management system and other platforms for uploading learning materials, assessment tools and student submissions, and interacting with students. The period of suspension is also a time to further enhance the use of these platforms in preparation for the lifting of the suspension of classes.

The suspension is also the time for the faculty to get to know each of their students more and take their situation into account when calibrating their courses.

o There are different types of technology-supported learning activities, from “low-tech” options (e.g. Q&A via SMS, printed worksheets) to online activities (e.g. blogs, online quizzes, discussion fora, webinars), that may be utilized given the varying conditions of our campuses and students. The Webinar Series that UPOU is offering to the faculty of other UP Constituent Units will discuss these and general principles in the design of technology-supported learning.
o In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Universities worldwide confront the same challenge of enabling learning in the midst of disruption, albeit under different conditions depending on the level of development of their societies. Recommendations of fellow academics on how to deal with the crisis are worth noting. Consider, for instance, some of the tips of University of Washington Professor Penas on Pedagogy in Time of Epidemic that is available at

1) Prioritize: What do students really need to know for the next few weeks? This is really difficult, and, once again, it means that the quality of teaching and learning will suffer. But these are NOT normal circumstances.
2) Stay in contact with students, and stay transparent. Talk to them about why you’re prioritizing certain things or asking them to read or do certain things. Most of us do that in our face-to-face teaching anyway, and it improves student buy-in because they know content and delivery are purposeful.
3) Make assignments lower or no stakes if you’re using a new platform. Get students used to just using the platform. Then you can do something higher stakes. Do not ask students to do a high stakes exam or assignment on a new platform.

o There are also various online discipline-specific resources that faculty can explore, such as the STEM video education library of the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) at
On the Lifting of Deadlines
The deadline for dropping and leave of absence for the second semester 2019-2020 is hereby lifted. The new deadlines will be announced in subsequent memos.
Thank you and please stay safe.
Screenshot 2020-03-12-20-22-14-60 e2d5b3f32b79de1d45acd1fad96fbb0fRSZ6012 March 2020
In accordance with the Davao City Government Guidelines No. 07 for Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19), ALL classes are hereby CANCELLED effective tomorrow, 13 March 2020.  All faculty are advised to immediately shift to online mode or take-home assignments UNTIL AFTER the public health emergency is lifted. A copy of the Davao City Guidelines No. 7 is hereby attached for your reference.
Thank you.
Davao City Goverment Guidelines No. 7, click here
Memorandum from the Office of the Vice-President for Academic Affairs, click here 

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