Student Life

UP Mindanao Bulletin, 18-31 May 2020

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18-31 May 2020


To the UP Mindanao community:

I am glad that we shall experience the re-opening of offices this week, partly because I can get to see some of you once again after such a long time. I will continue to miss seeing some of you because we may have different office reporting days.

As you know, the results of the UPCAT were released over the weekend. Since then, many parents and applicants have been contacting our staff through social media and mobile phones to make inquiries. We shall expect more of these inquiries in the days ahead. So let us be mindful of our communication lines and be alert to deliver the best public service we can offer.  

I urge everyone to review the guidelines for alternative work, especially the work-from-home (WFH) arrangement that we are alternating with physically reporting for work (PRW) in our units.

With the alternating personnel who do both PRW and WFH, we need closer coordination to endorse the business of the day to the person who may continue to process it the following day. We can use signs and notes on our tabletops or through ICT.

I hope we can also have some discussion about how to go about our work from home. How was your WFH experience? Researchers do WFH all the time, but I wonder how much administrative work can be done at home. We are going through a social experiment, and it would be good to learn as we go along, maybe with the lead of the HRDO.

With the new normal, it seems like we are learning to dance to new music. There are still so many things that we need to address, and I hope that we can maintain open communications so we can resolve issues and move forward to deliver service to the public as expected of us.

I hope to see you all safe and healthy in the days ahead!

—Prof. Larry N. Digal, PhD, Chancellor


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*NOTE: The Department of Health has issued a new case classification based on additional epidemiological information on COVID-19, adopting certain provisions of the WHO interim guidelines on global surveyance, in its Administrative Order no. 2020-0013 (LINK:

For this survey, confirmed and non-COVID-19 cases are based on reported results of actual tests undertaken by personnel in an approved testing facility, while suspected and probable cases are based on answers to questions aligned with the classification criteria as provided for by the above-mentioned DOH memorandum. Without mass testing, asymptomatic individuals may not be properly categorized as they do not fit the definition of “suspect” (must have symptoms) and “probable” (must be tested or awaiting results) cases given by the said order.


Most offices have submitted Schedule of Alternative Work and updated electronic contact information. Units who have not submitted, as yet, are reminded to do so.

A copy of the full guidelines may be downloaded here:  


Through the efforts of Office of Student Affairs in coordination with the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP), five students from the Davao Region were able to go home: 1 student from Davao City (May 14), 2 students from Davao del Norte and 1 student from Davao Oriental (May 22), and 1 student from Digos (May 28). The students from Davao Oriental and Digos are currently staying in their LGUs’ isolation facilities.

There are five remaining students from Zamboanga (2), Palawan (1), Cebu (1), and Iloilo (1) who are waiting for their schedule of travel given the availability of commercial sweeper flights or alternative government-coordinated flights. They already have the required documents for boarding.


Joint Intensive Training Program on SARS-CoV-2 Molecular Diagnostics

University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao and the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), represented by Chancellor Digal and medical center chief Dr. Leopoldo Vega, respectively, signed a Memorandum of Agreement for a joint intensive training program on SARS-CoV-2 molecular diagnostics last 26 May 2020 at SPMC. The program aims to train more medical personnel to operate additional COVID-19 testing centers in Davao City and other areas in Mindanao. Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Mindanao director Dr. Lyre Anni Murao and SPMC chief training officer Dr. Maria Elinore Concha witnessed the signing of the agreement.

UP Mindanao, through the Philippine Genome Center-Mindanao (PGC), will carry out a 14-day training for selected medical technologists and laboratory analysts, beginning with an online module on the molecular biology principles for SARS-CoV-2 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and then followed by extensive hands-on and practical exercises on laboratory procedures and workflow simulations at the UP Mindanao campus in Mintal, Davao City. After this, the trainees will move to SPMC for the clinical diagnostics practicum and assessment program, which will involve actual handling and processing of specimens and operations in a SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics facility. The trainees who complete the training program will have to undergo an assessment by DOH before they can operate in a COVID-19 testing facility in their respective institutions.  

PGC Mindanao and DRMC Diagnostic Lab

Chancellor Digal and five other project partners met at the Davao del Norte Provincial Capitol on 19 May 2020. They signed the memorandum of agreement for the funding and construction of the COVID-19 diagnostic laboratory in Tagum City. Davao del Norte governor Edwin Jubahib and Tagum City mayor Allan Rellon signed on behalf of the local government units to commit P12 million for the lab; Dr. Bryan Dalid represented the Davao Regional Medical Center, the recipient of the COVID-19 lab who will commit operation costs of the lab; and Mr. Diego Suelto represented Mr. Dino Suelto of Maer Summit Konstrukt Company who has provided a PCR machine and technical expertise and construction services. Dr. Lyre Anni Murao, director of the PGC Mindanao was witness to the agreement. UP Mindanao, through PGC Mindanao, has provided training for the personnel since April, helped in the lab design, will provide technical assistance, and lend equipment for the lab. The construction of the lab is ongoing, and completion is expected by mid-June.

NICER Project: Interdisciplinary Applied Modelling, Data Analytics, and Biology of Infectious Diseases (IAMDABID)

Assoc. Prof. May Anne Mata delivered a presentation to the Department of Science and Technology-XI Regional Director Anthony Sales, in support of her team's proposal to earn a grant from the Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER) Program of the DOST. The “Interdisciplinary Applied Modelling, Data Analytics, and Biology of Infectious Diseases” (IAMDABID) is a proposed center that makes use of quantitative science approaches to forecast and model disease dynamics. The IAMDABID will complement existing infectious disease centers that are focused on diagnostics, surveillance, public health governance, and disaster risk reduction. The partners for the undertaking include Malayan Colleges Mindanao, Caraga State University, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines, Philippine Genome Center Mindanao, Mindanao Development Authority, Department of Health, Commission on Higher Education, major hospitals, NGOs, and the media.  

“COVID-19 Insights” Online Dashboard

"COVID-19 Insights,” the web-based platform and dashboard developed by the UP Mindanao Interdisciplinary Applied Modelling (IAM) laboratory, now has a primer to help users navigate the dashboard, such as what information /features are contained therein. The link to the primer:

Link to the dashboard:

Project with Mindanao Development Authority

Since receiving the request of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) for assistance on their project “Flattening the Curve for Mindanao,” the IAM lab team has communicated with the government’s weather, health, and medical institutions to gather data to model COVID-19 scenarios in Mindanao. Representatives from UP Mindanao and MinDA had an initial meeting mid-May to agree on the main points of the project and are scheduled for a follow-up meeting with other government agencies and local government units to expedite the data gathering process.

Data Science, Paglilingkod sa Bayan (DSPB)

UP Mindanao data scientists were invited to a coalition named Data Science, Paglilingkod sa Bayan (DSPB) through a teleconference with coalition partners on 21 May 2020.  The coalition aims to harness data science to support the government’s effort to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. DSPB is presently composed of the Philippines Board of Investments, the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), the UP Computational Science Research Center, and UP Mindanao, among others. The coalition is supported by the UP System.    

COVID-19 Isolation Facilities in the UP Mindanao Campus

The City Government notified UP Mindanao that the first batch of 20-30 city government workers will arrive to occupy the Faculty-Staff Housing Building. These workers are undergoing a mandatory quarantine period following their 7-day duty. University constituents are reminded to observe the following guidelines:

Mental Health Helpline

UP Mindanao Mental Health Helpline reported that 37 persons have availed of its services as of 29 May 2020. The program is ongoing and open to students and employees of the university.




OVCAA Online Survey

The OVCAA has consolidated the student online survey of needs and is presently validating, through the help of the deans, the numbers of students to be provided with internet access and an electronic tablet. This is in preparation for a budget request for these items.

The Office of the Chancellor has requested funding assistance for a three-year subscription to a cloud server and a Learning Management System platform that will support the online delivery of learning. UP Vice President for Development Prof. Elvira Zamora has endorsed the request to UP President Danilo Concepcion. 


Philippine Sky Artificial Intelligence Program (SkAI-Pinas)

UP Mindanao will spearhead an R&D initiative dubbed the Philippine Sky Artificial Intelligence Program (SkAI-Pinas), which was recently approved for funding by the DOST. The program’s main research component, Automated Labeling Machine – Large-Scale Initiative (ALaM-LSI), will be conducted in partnership with the DOST Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI). SkAI-Pinas and ALaM-LSI will be led by Dr. Jose Ildefonso U. Rubrico, a professor at the DMPCS who served as a Balik-Scientist hosted by the DOST-ASTI and who was recruited by UP Mindanao in 2018 under the UP System’s Balik-PhD Program. The AI-enhanced R&D endeavor is set to begin operations in 2021 and will run for 3 years under the purview of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD).

SkAI-Pinas faces the daunting task of bridging the gap between the availability of massive remote sensing data in the country and the lack of a sustainable technology-based framework that would facilitate their widespread processing systematically and effectively. Through the ALaM-LSI Project, AI-based techniques would be utilized towards enabling more rapid and democratized development and deployment of relevant applications to the Filipino.

Technology Business Incubation on the Internet Of Things

The UPGRADE Technology Business Incubation welcomed the new normal with its focus on the Internet Of Things. A web-based app developed for the Davao Food Terminal, a government outlet, was further improved by linking it to an SMS-based app developed by a UP Mindanao student. This will lead to further development, similar to Waze, of a real-time supply chain app that will provide real-time production and harvest information and enable farmers and buyers to connect.


Discussion with the University of Houston

The UP Mindanao multidisciplinary team held an online discussion with a University of Houston team led by Dean Akif Uzman and Prof. Edwin Tecarro on 22 May 2020. The discussion identified possible areas of collaboration, such as the exchange of faculty expertise and student exchange, joint master’s degree programs, opportunities for visiting professorships, curriculum review and learning outcomes, supply chain network design and modeling, biology, and other fields.


-        PGC Mindanao continues to help capacitate hospitals and train volunteers on laboratory techniques and procedures used in SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics. Hence, the Center needs the following: (1) Sansure PCR Kit, (2) Qiamp Viral DNA Extraction Kit, (3) Long Filtered Tips (10ul, 200ul, 1000ul), (4) Molecular Grade Alcohol, (5) Medium-sized Nitrile Gloves, and (6) Interfolded Paper Towels.

-        The UP Alumni Association (UPAA) Davao has begun its procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) in response to the call for donations by PGC Mindanao.

-        Many constituents responded with donations for the UP Mindanao lady guard who recently gave birth. Her continuing needs are diapers, milk (Bona), lampin (gauze cloth), planela (flannel cloth), bigkis (baby belly binder), baby clothing or pajama, sanitary alcohol, baby bottle, baby soap, cotton balls/buds, baby wipes, and thermos bottle.

-        UPSTREAM Foundation will continue to receive any donations in response to the Covid-19 pandemic on behalf of UP Mindanao.