UP's Pride and Glory

President Jimenez’s 29th Anniversary Message to the UP Mindanao community

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in Achievements

2024 022024 PAJ 2

Madayaw na hinaat kaniyo na tanan. Good morning to everyone. Congratulations to the University of the Philippines Mindanao on your 29th founding anniversary with the theme “Duyog sa pag-alagad. Sustainable partnerships in the service to the people.”

Almost three decades ago, when UP Mindanao was established, I was a young lawyer who had just passed the bar and was eagerly looking forward to a future in the service of justice, peace, and prosperity for our people. Like many idealistic youths, I would soon realize that the road to fulfilling our dreams is more torturous than we can imagine. Full of twists and turns, potholes, and steep ravines. But, I also discovered that if we keep true to our vision and hard work to achieve, great things can happen, whatever the odds. It was thus no coincidence that when I held my investiture last year as the 22nd president of our beloved university, I chose for it to happen at none other than UP Mindanao. As UP’s first president with lumad roots in Mindanao, I felt that our destinies were intertwined. I have a personal stake in your success and in the hopes and aspirations of the many thousands of Mindanaoan students you have graduated.

When UP Mindanao was formally established on February 20, 1995, through Republic Act 7889, by then-president Fidel V. Ramos, there was some doubt and skepticism raised by the fact that it was the first constituent university of the UP System that was created by legislative fiat in response to the clamor of the region’s political and civic leaders. Some even saw it as an unnecessary burden, something that would surely fail in a few year’s time. You have proven those doubters wrong. Instead of failing, you have flourished. Literally, taming the wilderness out of which you rose to become a bastion of the best higher education, a UP education we can offer to the people of Mindanao.

In the first year of my term alone, I have witnessed the immense progress that UPMin has made. This included the establishment of your multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary research centers such as the Disease Watch and Analytics (DiWA) lab, the Agrifood Systems Analytics Lab, and the Agri Aqua Value Chain Lab. These centers are providing training to faculty and students that will make a difference in the lives of our people in Mindanao and beyond.

Academic excellence is important, and it is an integral and inevitable component of our mission as a national university. This means that we should guarantee that a diploma earned at UPMin is just as worthy and valuable as any other earned from any UP constituent university. Quality education, after all, has been identified as one of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals. As Sustainable Development Goal #4, education is the key in breaking the cycle of poverty and underdevelopment. And I am glad to see that you are doing everything within your capabilities to achieve and ensure that standard of quality. If there is anything more I can do now, then I most certainly will.    

In all these endeavors, what is important is that we don’t lose sight of our common goals and aspirations.

To sum things up, under my presidency, I want to create a UP that will check three boxes. First, it must be progressive in that it will be a first-class academic institution engaged in cutting-edge research and teaching, attuned to the global environment, and an avatar of academic freedom. But, it also must be inclusive in that it is a university for Filipinos responsive to both its internal and external publics, cooperating and co-creating with its academic peers, and proactively supporting the underserved and the underrepresented.

In line with this, the UP admissions office has been making extra efforts to reach far-flung places in the region just to announce to our youth that UP portals are open to all and that UP education in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao is subjected to the same quality assessment management. In this respect and as part of its expansion and despite the obstacles that it is facing when it comes to infrastructure, UP Mindanao is marching on with its road to 5,000, which aims to achieve an enrollment target of 5,000 students on or before 2029. More UP Mindanao students mean more Mindanawons served and, ultimately, a greater contribution from Mindanao to Philippine society, governance, and development.

I know that your program includes making the unit more diverse and accessible to students through curricular revisions of undergraduate programs. Introducing a ladderized education program that allows graduates of Associate in Arts in Sports Studies to continue to the Bachelor in Sports Science. And more importantly, further expanding application and admission campaigns in 2023 in Caraga, Region 12, Davao de Oro, Mariog district, Bukidnon province, and Region 10, Iligan City, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi.

Additionally, UP must be transformative in that it is engaged in nothing less than the transformation of Filipino life and society toward more social justice, economic equity, and civil liberty. To achieve this, We must put our search for knowledge and, indeed, ourselves in the service of the nation. Speaking of service, at least under my administration, we will expand our traditional motto of honor and excellence to include that third but vital word. Both honor and excellence are virtues that others may not even see or benefit from. Service, on the other hand, extends outward and brings meaning and fulfillment to both. You honor not just yourself but others. You excel not just for yourself but for others. That, to me, is the true spirit of UP. Thus, honor, excellence, and service for the Filipino people.

A vital component of service is our partnership with other state universities, colleges, and institutions for our mutual benefit. UP is a leader in higher education, but we are also lifelong learners who have much to learn from collaborating with partners on the ground. As this year's anniversary theme espouses, sustainable partnerships are the new way to ensure development in Mindanao. Through the UP Mindanao Philippine Genome Center Mindanao, the Mindanao Studies Center, the Wildlife Human Interaction Studies & Ecological Research (WISER) Lab, and the Coral Reef Resiliency and Ecology Studies (CRESST) Lab, we are helping communities flourish.

UPMin is also undertaking productive partnerships with the government and state universities in such endeavors as the Marilog and Laak Land Reservation livelihood programs in cacao in partnership with Davao de Oro State College and the Davao City local government unit. Most of all, UPMin continues to lead sustainable partnerships in the historical development of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), coordinating with the BARMM Ministry of Housing, Settlement, and Development, the Ministry of Basic, Technical, and Higher Education, and the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs. The success of the UP Bangsamoro Development Program will promote access to quality education, improve health outcomes, strengthen the capabilities of state universities and local governments, reinforce partnerships in the BARMM, and rehabilitate conflict-affected communities.

We have also helped stakeholders produce well-crafted science-based development plans for the community. These are resilient to natural hazards and climate change impacts. This is UP flexing its best. As a transformative university seeking peaceful solutions to major economic, social, health, and environmental problems in the region.

As the United Nations’ landmark Sustainable Development Goals declaration put it, “The key to human survival and progress depends on our ability to unify the five “P”s: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnerships. UP Mindanao stands proudly at the forefront of these efforts in Mindanao, and I stand proudly with you in fulfilling your mission. Many challenges yet lie ahead for you, but as a native son of Mindanao, I pledge my full support for your endeavors and initiatives, and conversely, I will also hold you to the highest standards of performance so we can show others what we Mindanaoans are capable of achieving not just for ourselves but for our people and our nation. 

Again, my warmest congratulations and best wishes. 

Mabúhi ang UP Mindanao! Mabúhi tayong lahat!

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