SARAI Young Researchers Inspire Siargao youth to Engage in Agriculture

RM SARAI SiargaoMs. Rosemarie Areglado, Science Research Specialist I, Project SARAI, talked about the pros of using technologies in the Agri-Youth Camp in Siargao Province.

DEL CARMEN, SIARGAO– The Project Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry (SARAI) presented and exhibited technologies and systems in the Budding Season Agri-Youth Camp at Provincial Nursery, Brgy. Cancohoy, Del Carmen, Siargao from April 5 to 7, 2019. The camp was part of the Agri-Youth program organized by the Municipal Agriculture and Fishery Office of Del Carmen and with by 52 youth leaders from different municipalities of Siargao attended the event. 

Project SARAI provides a vessel of inspiration and wisdom to encourage and equip the youth to pursue agriculture not only in line of work but more so as part of their lifestyle. This would hopefully transcend to their respective communities with the goal of achieving food security in the island of Siargao.

In the session for the Agri-Technology and Agri-Innovations, SARAI team highlighted the different SARAI-developed technological advancements and innovations such as the Community-Level SARAI Enhanced Agricultural Monitoring System (CL-SEAMS), SARAI Knowledge Portal and the Smarter Pest Identification Technology (SPIDTECH). CL-SEAMS is a system that can provide near-real time monitoring of crops planted in an area through the use of readily available satellite images. The SARAI Knowledge Portal is the online hub for all the project’s services and data products. SPIDTECH on the other hand is a mobile application that has the ability to identify and report different pests and diseases of SARAI priority crops. 

The participants expressed interest on how SARAI technologies and systems can be life changing to the farmers and how they can contribute as a youth to the agriculture sector. Aside from introducing SARAI, researchers namely, Ms. Rosemarie Laila Areglado (Development Communication and Environmental Science), Engr. Jerome Suarez (Agricultural Engineering), and Mr. Angelo Guiam (Computer Science) shared an inspirational talk on how their background can contribute to the development of the agriculture sector. (Ria Jhoanna Ducusin and RM Areglado)


Water forum 2019Dr. Decibel F. Eslava, Dean of SESAM-UPLB (left), moderated the discussion during the 2019 Water Forum at UP Diliman. Resource persons on this event include (from left) Dr. Guillermo Tabios III, Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez, Ms. Rusy Abastillas and Mr. Ramon Alikpala.

The Geological Society of the Philippines organized the water forum entitled “El Niño, Water Infrastructure Planning and the Supposed Water Crisis: Facts and Figures” last April 4, 2019 at the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS), University of the Philippines Diliman. Water experts from different institutions discussed and layout the facts of what really happened regarding the recent water crisis in Metro Manila and the possible solutions to hone the said issue.

Ms. Rusy Abastillas, senior weather specialist of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), explained how the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is affecting climate in the Philippines. She also presented the climate outlook of the Philippines for the next few months. She emphasized that there will still be dry spell from April until May, but improvements on the weather will be visible on June.

Meanwhile, Dr. Guillermo Tabios III, former director of the National Hydraulic Research Center, gave an assessment on the cause of water disruption in the east zone of Metro Manila. He also identified alternative water sources like Pampanga River Basin, Laguna Lake, Sumag-Biliway River Basin, Laiban-Kaliwa Dam, and even groundwater sources.

For her part, Dr. Patricia Ann Jaranilla-Sanchez, chair of the UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Water, discussed about the possible alternative water resources for Metro Manila and the factors to consider for water resources development. She also highlighted that severe floods and droughts are more likely to happen in the future. Hence, optimization and conservation of available water resources is needed. 

Mr. Ramon Alikpala, chief executive officer of Future Water Asia and former chairperson of the Metropolitan Waterworks Sewerage System (MWSS), introduced the idea of urban water management and cited household-level strategies to optimize water use, such as water loss reduction, pressure management, water reuse, drainage management, and rainwater harvesting. 

During the open forum, many participants sought for an independent regulatory body for water that will spearhead the management of water resources of the country.

Supported by the Rushurgent Working Group, UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management, UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Water, National Research Council of the Philippines, the UP Geology Alumni Association, and the Philippine Association of Geology Students-SEG Student Chapter, more than 300 participants joined this year’s Water Forum.

SESAM joins the world to commemorate Earth Hour

Earth hour 2019Mr. Jong Sumangil and the Zoomangle Band delighted the crowd during the Earth Hour 2019 switch-off event at the UPLB Carabao Park last March 30, 2019.

The School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) led the celebration of Earth Hour 2019 last March 30, 2019 at the Carabao Park, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).


This year, the worldwide advocacy aims to promote awareness to save mother earth such as the ban on single-use plastic. The #EarthHour and #connect2earth trended on social media worldwide to promote awareness of Earth Hour 2019 and generated more than 2 billion shares to show the netizen’s concern for nature.


Dr. Decibel F. Eslava, Dean of SESAM, thanked all the people who gathered to support the event. She also delivered the message sent by Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., which stressed that all of us have a responsibility to our future generations. Further, Dr. Eslava mentioned “Let earth hour be the not the sum, but the start of a great movement towards protecting and serving mother earth”, as she read the Chancellor’s message.


Prior to the switch-off at 8:30 pm, local artists delivered a mini-concert. Dr. Antonio J. Quilloy, Professor, College of Economics and Management (CEM) and the 2019 UPLB Most Outstanding Artist, delivered a mesmerizing saxophone performance. Meanwhile, local folk artist Jong Sumangil and the Zoomangle band sang their original compositions to the delight of the crowd. The band was followed by Mr. Mark Virtudes, a development communication student and a finalist of the 2019 Star in a Carillon singing contest, rendered a couple of light rock songs. Lastly, the UPLB Filipiniana Dance Troupe capped the night with two traditional Filipino dance numbers just before the countdown of the switch-off lights in the campus.


Different cities in 188 countries worldwide joined Earth Hour 2019 to speak up for nature and inspire urgent action for the environment. Thousands of landmarks switched off their lights in solidarity for the planet. Individuals pledged their support for the planet, challenging world leaders to push the preservation of nature up the global agenda. 

ADB Consultant in “Talakayan”

SiningDr. Sining Cuevas during the 42nd TSED last March 28, 2019 at SESAM grounds.

The University of the Philippines Los Baños Environmental Science Society (UPLB EnviSoc), in cooperation with the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) hosted the 42nd Talakayan Series on Environment and Development (TSED) last 28 March 2019 at the SESAM grounds.


For this TSED, UPLB EnviSoc invited Dr. Sining Cuevas, consultant of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and an adjunct Professor of SESAM. Dr. Cuevas’ presentation entitled “The Interconnected Nature of the Challenges in Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation: Evidence from Local Land Use Planning”, tackled the many challenges that local government units (LGUs) faced in implementing adaptation and mitigation strategies in climate change.


Dr. Cuevas, a PhD in Climate Change Adaptation graduate from the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, mentioned that there is a lack of mechanism for the institutionalization of climate change programs in LGU level. 


She added that the Mayors must appoint a focal person for the implementation of the climate change programs in the municipal level. The LGUs must create a Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer (MDRRMO) regular position to lead the local DRRM and climate change initiatives. “Every LGU must have item position of MDRRMO, however most LGUS have reached the salary cap limit for personal services, thus the mayors just appoint somebody from the regular plantilla as an MDRRMO on a concurrent basis”, Dr. Cuevas stressed.


Other issues such as financial, institutional and political problems were also discussed. Dr. Cuevas also mentioned that another funding opportunity that LGUs can access to fund their DRRM projects is the People’s Survival Fund (PSF). However, she added that some LGUs don’t have the technical capability to prepare the supporting documents and comply with the requirements of the PSF.


More than 70 SESAM faculty, staff and students attended the 42nd TSED of the UPLB EnviSoc, which is led by their President, Mr. Louis Balbino U. Santos, MS Environmental Science student.

UPLB participates in the 2019 National Water Summit

Natl water summitParticipants from National Government Agencies, Non-Government Agencies, Private Organizations and Academe during the National Water Summit last March 21, 2019 at Novotel Hotel, Cubao, Quezon, City.

The National Water Resources Board (NWRB), under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), spearheaded the National Water Summit Towards Water Security at Novotel Hotel, Cubao, Quezon, City last March 21, 2019. The event is concurrent with the previous National Water Pre-Summits conducted in 2017, as part of the Memorandum of Agreement signed between NWRB and University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) for the project entitled “Towards a Comprehensive National Plan for Water Security (Roadmap Preparations) and Summit” under the leadership of Drs. Rex Demafelis and Patricia Ann Sanchez, members of the project management team. 

UPLB served as the technical arm of the project to craft technical reports on different water key dimensions/sectors such as environment, economic, domestic, urban, governance, agriculture and resilience. In addition, series of committee meetings and focus group discussions were also conducted by NWRB in preparation for this event.

Usec. Rosemarie Edillon of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) start-off the summit with the discussion on the importance of water and its underlying concerns. Water demand especially on urban centers, flood management and climate change impacts to water are some of the issues that she mentioned. Moreover, Asec. Roderick Planta of NEDA discussed the state of water in the country. He emphasized that water should be managed using Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Framework. 

Part also of the event was the presentation of cluster output based from the conducted focus group discussions and committee meetings. Cluster A includes governance, resilience and environment sectors; Cluster B is for urban and domestic sectors; and Cluster C is for agriculture and economics. Key issues and recommendations/strategies (short-term, medium-term and long-term) for each cluster were presented. (JOAquino)

SESAM joins the 19th National Cave Congress of the Philippines

caveSESAM explored one of the newly discovered caves in Sta. Teresita, Cagayan, the Tabacco Cave in 2016. Caves are important ecosystems that need to be studied for biodiversity and tourism.

Baggao, Cagayan--The 19th National Cave Congress was recently held at the Municipality of Baggao, Cagayan Province last 6-10 March 2019 with Dr. Rico Ancog as a plenary speakerunder the theme, “The Importance of Karst and Cave Water Resource, Biodiversity and Risk Management.” 

Organized by the Philippine Speleological Society, Inc (PSS) in collaboration with the Biodiversity Management Bureau-Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-BMB) and the Department of Tourism (DOT), the congress gathered spelunkers, scientists, biologists, and various stakeholders from local government units, research institutions and state university and colleges in the Philippines.

The congress was being organized in support to the implementation of Republic Act 9072 or the National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act. It tackled major issues to advance caves and karst conservation, management and educate the people on the importance of caves and karst. It also trained the attendees on several trainings on basic caving, cave mapping, cave management, single rope technique and cave rescue.

Dr. Ancog elaborated on the importance of understanding cave use and conservation from institutional lens and highlighted the need to clarify the property rights regime of a given cave system. Using data from DENR-BMB, Dr. Ancog provided status of the Philippine caves focusing on the classified 3007 caves across the country as of September 2018. Of these, only 1085 were assessed and about 616 of which has been duly classified that then determines its specific allowable use. Out of the total 1085 assessed caves in the country, about 218 are located within protected areas. Of the 616 classified, about 328 have assessment reports formulated, 274 with maps, and only 280 been issued with specific municipal resolutions. Using the case of Pangasinan Province (n=120 caves), it is shown that the status of caves (exploited, vandalized, intact) is significantly affected by location (outside or within PA), land status (within A&D, timberland, private land, etc.) and classification types (Class 1, 2 and 3). 

The study of Dr. Ancog proposed a research agenda focusing on the governance and management imperatives of the Philippine caves to strengthen its conservation. These include: studies clarifying property rights and regimes to clarify individual and collective rights as well responsibilities of parties and stakeholders; Accounting for caves ecosystems as natural capital thereby requiring economic valuation studies, more biodiversity assessments, and strengthened integration and considerations in the environmental impact systems; identification of models and frameworks towards adaptive cave governance: and the application of resilience thinking in the research framework and practice of cave conservation in the country.