SESAM honors alumni during 101st Loyalty Day celebration

It is the time of the year where it is like “we come back home and spend time with family” according to Dr. Decibel F. Eslava, Dean of the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM). Dr. Eslava led the awarding of the 2019 SESAM Outstanding alumni last October 10, 2019 at the new SESAM lecture Hall. Similar to the annual festivities, SESAM joined the Loyalty Day parade and then followed by the alumni symposium where the awardees shared their graduate school stories and also delivered lectures on their respective fields of expertise. 

Dean Eslava, on the other hand, introduced to the alumni the new faculty and staff of SESAM, as well as the new graduate programs, projects, laboratories and the soon to be constructed new SESAM building.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rico C. Ancog, SESAM Assistant Professor and alumni association president, said “Loyalty Day is the best time to pay tribute to our beloved school”. With this year’s theme “Strengthening the Role of Environmental Science Professionals in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, the awardees’ lecture was in honor of Macli-ing Dulag, an environmental activist who opposed the construction of Chico Dam in the 1970s, but was later killed in the height of his advocacy. 

This year’s Outstanding Alumnus for Research in Environmental Economics, was Dr. Rodel F. Subade, Professor 12 and UP Scientist III, Division of Social Sciences, UP Visayas. Dr. Subade, who graduated PhD Environmental Science in 2004, said SESAM has done many positive things through the years– such as publication, researches and now looking forward to the construction of the future building. Like these impacts, he said, every graduate of environmental science should create their own to the community. He cited that research outputs must also reach the ordinary Filipino. “Our researches or thesis are not just for journals, lets make sure it will be useful for everyone”, he added.

For her part, Dr. Susan Aquino-Ong, PhD Environmental Science graduate in 2012 and the 2019 Outstanding Alumna for Landscape Architecture, told her struggles while taking her PhD degree, as she balanced her role as a student, wife and mother, while also working as an Assistant Professor at the College of Agriculture, UP Los Baños. She also recalled her advocacy to protect the famous Dao tree, which was the inspiration of National Artist Leandro V. Locsin in designing the Student Union (SU) Building. She was successful for that campaign as the Dao tree was declared as one of UPLB’s Heritage Trees in 2008. “An environmental scientist must understand policies and must balance it and must influence others as well”, Dr. Aquino-Ong advised students and researchers.

The third awardee, Mr. Lydio M. Español, MS Environmental Science graduate in 2002 and 2019 Outstanding Alumni for Government Service, thanked his adviser, Dr. Enrique P. Pacardo, SESAM Professor Emeritus for guiding him in his graduate studies. He said the fourth industrial revolution– cyber-physical systems such as smart factories– are now more efficient and produce lesser wastes. He said that this is a field that an environmental scientist must also thrive. But he is wary that someday machines may already control humans and he emphasized that it should remain the other way around. However, Mr. Español, who is the Regional Director of the Population Commission-National Capital Region, stressed that it is rapid increase in population is the bigger concern now, as the Philippines has the highest fertility rate in South East Asia. “The higher the fertility rate, the higher incidence of poverty” Mr. Español stressed. He added that one-fourth of the country’s population is below the poverty line, based on their statistics. “We need to develop areas outside the urban centers to decongest cities, especially Metro Manila”, he added.  

More 70 SESAM faculty, staff, alumni and students attended the 2019 Alumni Homecoming Symposium, which is part of the 101st Loyalty Day celebration of UP Los Baños.