UP's Pride and Glory

Highlights of September 2020

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in Achievements


Davao City, home of UP Mindanao, continued to be under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) from July to September 2020. 

As of 1 October 2020, Mindanao island had 13,085 cumulative cases, up from 7,950 on 6 September 2020, and 4,516 on 10 August 2020. 

Mindanao island had 319 deaths as of 1 October 2020, compared to 167 on 6 September, and 96 on 10 August 2020.   

The nation-wide total on 1 October 2020 was 311,694 cumulative cases, with 5,504 deaths, compared to 6 September 2020, with 234,570 cumulative cases and 3,790 deaths. (source: ncovtracker.doh.gov.ph) 



The University Registrar reported a total of 341 first-year students enrolled in September 2020. This total originated from 222 confirmations by UPCAT qualifiers and 141 appeals for admission.

Among continuing students, there were 617 undergraduates and 119 graduate students enrolled, for a total of 958 undergraduate and 119 graduate students enrolled for the First Semester of Academic Year 2020-2021. 

University Registrar Prof. John Bengan led the online Orientation on Academic Processes for First-Year Students on 8 September 2020, and classes started on 10 September 2020. The Registrar has processed the billing of enrollment for reimbursement by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) under the Free Tuition Act. The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) opened the Student Learning Assistance System (SLAS) for applications last 28 August 2020.

Iskolar ng Bayan

UP Mindanao admitted nine first-year students under the Iskolar ng Bayan program. One of each entered the BS Computer Science, BS  Food Technology,  BS Agribusiness Economics, BS Biology, and BS Anthropology programs. Two students each entered the BA Communication and Media Arts and BA English programs. 

Course pack deliveries

VC Oponda handing out USB drives Coursepacks for delivery 

Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs Nilo Oponda and assistant professors Vlademir Shuck and Ryan Songcayauon went to Davao de Oro Province on 29 September 2020 to deliver course packs in printed copies and USB drives to local UP Mindanao students, in coordination with the LGUs as distribution hubs. VC Oponda also met with the provincial government and Tagum City officials and local alumni to strengthen linkage and request the use of LGU internet facilities for UP Mindanao students. In addition, VC Oponda established liaison arrangements for provincial, municipal, and barangay health workers for the upcoming consultation forums on the proposed UP Mindanao College of Medicine.  

The School of Management (SOM) sent out seven course packs to areas within Davao Region, and another seven to areas outside the region, specifically, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Norte, North Cotabato, Bulacan, Bohol, and Quezon City. 

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) prepared 39 course packs in USB and 27 in printed copies for a corresponding number of students. For the College of Science and Mathematics (CSM), eight students requested course packs in printed form and six in USB drives. Six non-CSM students also availed of the course packs offered by the CSM.

Master in Management Bridge Program Day 2

The School of Management (SOM) held the second and final day of the Master in Management (MM) Bridge Program via Zoom on 5 September 2020. Out of the 39 participants, 35 were in attendance. 

Adoption of UPLB’s MS Agricultural Economics

School of Management (SOM) faculty members held a series of meetings in September 2020 to prepare for the process of adopting the UP Los Baños (UPLB) MS Agricultural Economics (MSAE) program. On 7 September 2020, UPLB Graduate School Dean Jose Camacho and the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics (DAAE) of the UPLB College of Economics and Management (CEM) had an online meeting with Chancellor Digal and the SOM faculty. In the meeting, Dean Camacho clarified the process using a similar case as an example. In conclusion, the DAAE faculty expressed their willingness for the adoption of their program by the SOM.

PhD by Research

The SOM welcomed two additional students to the new PhD by Research program following the favorable evaluation of their qualifications and capsule proposals by the Evaluation Committee on 9 September 2020. 

ACIAR Philippine Agribusiness Master Class 

SOM faculty members and researchers completed the Philippine Agribusiness Master Class (AMC) sponsored by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). Assistant professors Imee Marie Acopiado, Thaddeus Acuña, Miko Mariz Castro, Glory Dee Romo, and university researcher Melissa Loquias completed the online Master Class on 25 September 2020 via video conferencing. The AMC co-sponsors were the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Australia, The University of Queensland, Foodlink Advocacy Co-operative, and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). 

Mental Health Helpline

The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) re-launched its UP Mindanao Mental Health Helpline on 25 September 2020 for the First Semester of AY 2020-2021. Their tagline states, “Let's talk. You matter. We care.”

The Helpline is a free mental health and psychosocial support service for students and university employees. For the project, the OSA mobilized the services of Asst. Prof. Rachelle Bersamin (Department of Social Sciences), a registered guidance counselor and registered psychologist, and University Guidance Counselor Remigio Domingo, along with public and private organizations. In September 2020, some 18 students, one employee, and one non-UP Mindanao constituent availed of the services. 

Constituents can access the Helpline through the following links: 

Students - http://tiny.cc/UPMinMentalHealthHelpline

Employees - http://tiny.cc/MentalHealthHelpline


Memorandum of Agreement Signing with Police Regional Office–Region XI 

UP Mindanao entered into another memorandum of agreement (MOA) to establish a COVID-19 testing facility, this time with the Police Regional Office–Region XI (PRO-XI) and the Department of Science and Technology–Region XI (DOST-XI), on 16 September 2020 at Camp Sgt. Quintin M. Merecido, Davao City.   

Chancellor Larry Digal, PRO-XI Regional Director Police Brigadier-General Filmore Escobal, DOST-XI Regional Director Dr. Anthony Sales signed on behalf of their institutions. Associate Professor Lyre Anni Murao, director of the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Mindanao, served as a witness.      

The PRO-XI facility located in the Camp Merecido Hospital is the third COVID-19 facility that UP Mindanao is helping establish, following the recently completed facility in the Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City and the facility under construction in the Provincial Hospital of Davao de Oro Province.     

UP Mindanao, through the experts in PGC Mindanao, will provide the facility personnel with training in biosafety and molecular diagnostics and prepare them for proficiency testing by the Department of Health−Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM). 

DOST-XI will extend the financial assistance for the training and the operation of the facility, particularly in research and development, since the agreement also states that the laboratory can be used as an extension laboratory by PGC Mindanao for R&D, similar to the facilities in Tagum and Davao de Oro.

Continuing Training in SARS-CoV-2Diagnostics for COVID-19Frontliners

In September, the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Mindanao, a DOH-recognized training facility for COVID-19, trained additional personnel of the Lanao del Norte Medical Center and the Butuan Medical Center in preparation for expanded COVID-19 testing in their respective regions. Personnel of DRMC-Tagum City likewise availed of refresher training. 

Among the new clients for training were the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, the  Northern Mindanao Tuberculosis Reference Center, the Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center, and the Davao de Oro Provincial Hospital-Montevista.  

The PGC Mindanao has provided training services to ten medical institutions since April 2020. 

The Cotabato Regional Medical Center, whose personnel trained in PGC Mindanao, was issued a license to operate. It is the first COVID-19 testing laboratory within the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the third PGC Mindanao-trained hospital to acquire the license.

Update on Proposed City Hospital on Campus 

Davao City Councilor Joselle Villafuerte organized an online meeting between UP and Davao City officials on 11 September 2020 to discuss the proposed city hospital on campus. City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio led the Davao City delegation, with Councilor Villafuerte,  City Councilor Javi Campos, City Councilor Myrna Dalodo-Ortiz, City Planning Officer Ivan Cortez, and Barangay Mintal Chairman Rey Bargamento. Chancellor Larry Digal and PGC Mindanao Director Prof. Lyre Murao led the UP group, later joined by Executive Vice President Teodoro Herbosa, UP’s consultant to the project, and UP Manila Chancellor Carmencita Padilla, the lead resource person for the planned UP Mindanao College of Medicine. Councilor Villafuerte presented the hospital project, and the UP team added context by presenting its medical education and research plans, called the Mindanao Health Initiative. Both parties agreed to cooperate for the proposed hospital project. 


Disinfection in Campus

The administration undertook the disinfection of university rooms and offices on 18-19 September 2020. All personnel adopted work-from-home arrangements for one workday. 


SMAARRDEC Regional Symposium on Research and Development Highlights

The Southern Mindanao Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (SMAARRDEC) held its Regional Symposium on Research and Development Highlights 2020 on 29 September 2020. 

DOST-Region XI Director Anthony Sales, in his update, reported three UP Mindanao ongoing projects, namely, the Niche Center in the Regions proposal for an infectious diseases research and development center, the on-going trainings in SARS-CoV-2 by PGC Mindanao for COVID-19 frontliners, and the development of a manual of operations for COVID-19 testing.  

UP Mindanao researchers presented three papers, all of which were given recognition by the panel composed of Dr. Edna Anit of DOST-Crops Research Division, Dr. Kenneth Barroga of DOST-Region XI, and Dr. Purisima Bayacag of the University of Southeastern Philippines.  

33rd Anniversary slide of SMAARRDEC Title slide of ASY Fuentes 
Title slide of MG Bacus Title slide of BT Sabanal

First Place in the Development Paper Category went to the paper “Giving Farmers Uwen Fananafedew: Improving Agricultural  Extension in Conflict-vulnerable Areas through the LIFE Model,” presented by Senior Lecturer Anne Shangrila Y. Fuentes (Dept. of Social Sciences). 

The paper is from the PULL (PCAARRD-UP Mindanao-Landcare-LIFE) program in its third and final year. The co-authors are E.V. Bayogan (Dept. of Biological Science and Environmental Studies [DBSES]), M.O. Orbeta, H.P. Lozada, K.S. Sigue, J.D. Ignacio, L.N. Digal (School of Management), R.U. Guillermo, M.L. Handa, N.D. Jalandoni, J.P. Esparagoza Jr., E.R. Nasam, T.D. Ballener, N.C. Cordero, M. P. Titan, M.T. Sangki, M.A. Gatela (Office of Extension and Community Service), and N.B. Oponda (Dept. of Mathematics, Physics & Computer Science [DMPCS]). 

The panelists remarked on the project’s comprehensiveness and inquired on the program’s effect on the local conflicts. The panel suggested that the project applies for support from the DOST-Grassroots Innovation for Inclusive Development (GRIND).  

First Place in the Policy Brief Category went to Mr. Michael Bacus (BS Biology) for  “Healthy Nature for Healthy People.” The brief proposes a nationwide One Health surveillance program for emerging infectious diseases in wild animals, livestock, agricultural interfaces, and environmental systems such as rivers and residential areas to serve as an early warning system to detect disease outbreaks. 

The policy brief emanated from the research project “Ecology of Emerging Zoonotic Pathogens from Bats in Malagos Davao City,” funded by the Regional Health Research & Development Council-XI. The research co-authors are Michael Bacus, Stephen Dayap, Nikki Tampon, Marielle Udarbe, Roberto Puentespina Jr., Sharon Villanueva, and DBSES faculty members Asst. Prof. Marion John Michael Achondo, Assoc. Prof. Aleyla de Cadiz, and Assoc. Prof. Lyre Anni Murao, also the project leader. 

UP Mindanao is the implementing agency with UP Manila and Animal Solutions Veterinary Hospital as cooperating agencies.

The panelists said the policy brief would be elevated to the Research Development and Innovation Committee of the Regional Development Council.  

Third Place in the Undergraduate Thesis Category went to Mr. Brian Sabanal (BS Biology) for “Spiders (Arthropoda; Araneae) in the University of the Philippines Mindanao Campus,” with Asst. Prof. Mae Responte as adviser. The paper disclosed the ecosystem services provided by spiders, their role in providing ecological balance, cultural and economic contributions, and called up the law against collecting spiders. 

The panelists commented that the paper is a contribution to the body of knowledge on biodiversity and is commendable for invoking the biodiversity conservation law.


The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) also reported on its partnership with UP Mindanao and RMIT University in a blog post on 22 September 2020. The report featured Dr. Mary Johnson of RMIT University, who is working on an ACIAR-supported project in three conflict-vulnerable sites across Mindanao: in Zamboanga Sibugay, Maguindanao, and South Cotabato. The report mentioned the local partners, the University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao, UP Los Baños, and Landcare Foundation of the Philippines, Inc.

“We're working to improve agricultural extension in conflict areas of Mindanao in the Philippines through a new approach using the iconic Australian Landcare model. In some cases, this is increasing farmer incomes by up to 80% amid conflict and COVID19,” the report stated. 

Intellectual Property Management Program for Academic Institutions Commercializing Technologies (IMPACT)

The DOST-PCIEERD shortlisted UP Mindanao for ten available slots for funding under its Intellectual Property Management Program for Academic Institutions Commercializing Technologies (IMPACT) for 2020-2021.

Following training for this purpose, the Technology Transfer and Business Development Office (TTBDO) Administrative Officer Lynda Buenaobra presented the UP Mindanao IMPACT project proposal to the DOST Governing Council on 23 September 2020. PCIEERD Research Information and Technology Transfer Division chief Russel Pili said the UP Mindanao proposal has a favorable chance for approval. 

Land Reservations

 The UP Mindanao Land Reservation Management Office (LRMO) held sessions for the season-long Training on Sustainable Vegetable Production on 10 and 24 September 2020 in the UP Laak Land Reservation located in Davao de Oro Province (formerly Compostela Valley). The Barangay Talle Council and the Talle Farmers Association co-organized the sessions with an expert from Compostela Valley State College, a new partner.

Some 16 men and 12 women, and 16 men and 14 women, attended the sessions, among which 12 persons are also DSWD beneficiaries. The training is a component of the UP Mindanao public service program for the capability-building of local farmers. The objectives are: to transmit suitable technologies for adoption by the local communities; establish a demo farm for farmers to practice, test, and evaluate such technologies in comparison with their traditional practices; improve knowledge of vegetable cultivation using integrated pest management and similar technologies; empower farmers to be decision-makers, and improve the environmental sustainability of their farming operations.


Public schools in the UP Laak and UP Marilog land reservations located in Davao de Oro and Davao City, respectively, benefited from a Pahinungod-Oplan Tulong-Dunong Program for School Children in UP Land Reservation Areas, named “Bond Paper Mo Para Sa Module Ko.”

The Department of Education’s Brigada Eskwela in 2020 focuses on the continuation of basic education despite the pandemic. Still, most students in the UP land reservation areas have neither gadgets nor internet connection. The students will learn through printed modules that their schools will provide. The “Bond Paper Mo Para Sa Module Ko” project will contribute to the Department of Education’s Brigada Eskwela by donating five reams of A4 bond paper to selected schools. 

With donations from 13 UP Mindanao constituents, seven schools have benefited from the project to date. The Sinobong National High School in Veruela, Agusan del Sur (within the Laak Land Reservation), Marahan National High School, Datu Lompipi Elementary School, and Datu Ladayon Elementary School (all in the vicinity of the Marilog land reservation) received donations in September. Four more schools will receive donations in the coming months. 


Dean of the School of Management

The Board of Regents, during its 1354th meeting last 24 September 2020, formally approved the appointment of Asst. Prof. Aurelia Luzviminda V. Gomez as the new dean of the School of Management, effective 24 September 2020 to 23 September 2023.

Prof. Gomez was the former Vice Chancellor for Administration, and she succeeded Assoc. Prof. Pedro Alviola as dean of SOM.


UPAA Australia-New South Wales celebrated their 40th anniversary with a series of messages from their scholars, which featured UP Mindanao graduate Mea Joy Avergonzado-Recto (BS Computer Science, 2012) was a UPAAA-NSW scholar currently employed in Finastra.

~ Cheers to 40 Years: A Message From Our Third Scholar ~

“My parents were struggling to send three kids to college. Sometimes my mother had to write promissory notes for the monthly tuition fee. I am eternally grateful to the association because I was able to focus on my studies without having to worry about the financial aspect. Because of the quality education I received, I now work where I'm happy with what I'm doing, which is programming."


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