Smarter Agriculture for Smarter Indigenous Farmers: Project SARAi and DA-4K Program holds Training for Indigenous Peoples from Across the Philippines

Project SARAi, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture – Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran ng Kababayang Katutubo (4K Program), conducted a training on Smart Farming: Technologies and Benefits for Agriculture in Ancestral Domains from 22-24 November 2023 at Eurotel, North EDSA. 

The 3-day training event aimed to introduce and capacitate the participants on selected SARAi systems and technologies. The activity was participated in by 42 representatives of indigenous groups from different regions of the country. ILANG regional offices of the Department of Agriculture – 4K Program representatives were also present. The training commenced with a welcome message from Director Lucia A. Campomanes, Program Director of DA-4K. In her talk, she emphasized the essential role of Project SARAi in facilitating technological advancements of agriculture in the country, and the essential role of the youth of indigenous peoples in improving agriculture in their respective ancestral domains. 

The training was packed with a series of lectures and demonstrations led by Dr. Decibel V. Faustino-Eslava, lead for the SARAi Integration Project; and SARAi Experts, Asst. Prof. Aldrin J. Hao, Mr. Gideon Aries Burgonio, Asst. Prof. Dara Fabro-Realin, and Dr. Calixto M. Protacio.

Representatives from different indigenous communities conveyed gratitude for the inclusive training that advances modern technology in the agricultural sector, essential to scale up the capacities of our indigenous communities in the country.  Notably, a representative underscored the pivotal role played by the collaborative initiatives of Project SARAi and the DA-4K program in positively shaping the livelihoods and future prospects of the indigenous population. Participants also mentioned the importance of echoing what they learned from the training to their own communities. 

Director Lucia extended her appreciation to Project SARAi and highlighted that the training is only the first of many more to come. She looks forward to more activities in the future designed to capacitate indigenous communities for pushing agricultural development (KCTenio, MEMAmante, MRVRegalado, RMAreglado).

UPLB-SESAM Dean Dr. Rico C. Ancog joins MAIRS-FE Scientific Steering Committee

Dr. Rico C. Ancog, the dean and professor at the UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (UPLB-SESAM), has been elected as the newest member of the Monsoon Asia Integrated Research for Sustainability – Future Earth (MAIRS-FE) Scientific Steering Committee. This appointment, made during the recent 2023 MAIRS-FE Scientific Steering Committee Meeting and Side Events at Century Park Hotel in Manila on November 16-17, represents a significant step in understanding how human activities impact the monsoon climate in the Monsoon Asia Region.

MAIRS-FE stands as a regional consortium dedicated to the holistic study of social and earth system processes across the Asia Monsoon Region. Unlike other initiatives focusing solely on monsoon climate, MAIRS-FE takes a unique approach by emphasizing the interaction between human activities and the monsoon system. This emphasis aims to evaluate the impact of human-induced changes on the monsoon climate and, in turn, how these altered climate patterns influence the socio-economic development of the region.

The consortium’s work is guided by a Scientific Steering Committee responsible for steering the direction of research endeavors. The inclusion of Dr. Rico C. Ancog, a distinguished expert in environmental science, is poised to further enhance the committee’s multidisciplinary approach to addressing crucial questions on monsoon resilience, societal vulnerability to environmental shifts, and the promotion of cross-disciplinary collaborations.

With Dr. Ancog’s expertise and leadership from the UPLB-SESAM, the committee gains invaluable insights to navigate the intricate dynamics between human interventions and the Monsoon Asia’s climate.  (Laurenz B. Cruz)

1HEALTH Project wins first place in the national antimicrobial resistance poster competition in the PAAW 2023

Representatives of the 1HEALTH Project from the School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines Los Baños (SESAM-UPLB), Dr. Yusuf A. Sucol (Project Leader) and Ms. Hannah Agatha D. Millares (Project University Researcher) emerged as the overall winner in the poster presentation competition during the Philippine Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Awareness Week (PAAW) 2023 on November 24, 2023, at the Eastwood Richmonde Hotel, Quezon City.

The annual event was hosted by the Inter-Agency Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance (ICAMR) which was chaired by the Department of Health (DOH) as this year’s lead organizer. The winning 1HEALTH AMR poster bested 38 posters exhibited by the ICAMR member agencies – DOH, DA, DOST, DILG, DENR, DTI, TESDA, CHED, DepEd – and from participating higher education institutions. 

Dr. Sucol and Ms. Millares presented a research paper entitled, “AMR and One Health: An Analysis of the Philippines’ Current Actions to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance,” aligning with this year’s conference theme, “Sama-samang Magtulungan para Antimicrobial Resistance ay Mapigilan.” The study analyzed the current Philippine government’s progress and directions to manage AMR as laid out in the Philippine National Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance (PNAP-AMR) 2019-2023 and to provide insights into the adoption of the One Health approach in AMR interventions. The study employed the 2018 UN Food and Agriculture (FAO) Antimicrobial Resistance Policy Review and Development Framework (FAO-ARPRDF) after a systematic scoping and inventory of AMR policies, plans and literatures including a comprehensive policy review and timeline analysis and institutional and stakeholders’ SWOT analysis.
Notably, this research paper was a collaborative effort, co-authored by the 1HEALTH Project – AMR Component team, Dr. Alma Lorelei DJ. Abejero, Ms. Catherine B. Gigantone, Ms. Idel Angelie R. Malate, and Dr. Rico C. Ancog of SESAM-UPLB..

The PAAW 2023 celebration is in line with the observance of the World Antimicrobial Resistance Week (WAAW) 2023, a global campaign to raise awareness and understanding of AMR and promote best practices among One Health stakeholders to reduce the emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections. WAAW and PAAW are celebrated from 18-24 November every year. This is a joint program of the  Quadripartite organizations – the World Health Organization (WHO), World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), also dubbed as the “silent pandemic”, is a phenomenon when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites no longer respond to antimicrobial agents. As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics, and other antimicrobial agents become ineffective and, consequently, infections are difficult or impossible to treat. Thus, AMR increases the risk of disease spread, severe illnesses, and death. 
The 1HEALTH Project advocates for the holistic and efficient management of AMR through multi-sectoral partnerships and interventions targeted at safeguarding human, animal, and environmental health. Let’s continue to pave the way for advancements in combating Antimicrobial Resistance! (Christine Mae B. Santos, Hannah Agatha D. Millares) 🌍👏 #iAMResponsible #AntimicrobialResistance #PAAW2023 #the1healthproject #SESAMSAILS

CETD-SESAM conducts second EIA training for 2023

The Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD) of the School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines Los Baños (SESAM-UPLB) conducted its second Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) training last November 13 to 17, 2023 via online conferencing.

This short online course, in partnership with the Philippines Network of Educators on Environment (PNEE), was packed with 102 participants coming from the academe, National Government Agencies (NGAs), Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC), Local Government Units (LGUs), private organizations, and individual practitioners. The main objective of this training is to capacitate and update the participants by discussing the scientific basis and regulatory guidelines in conducting the EIA process. 

In his message, SESAM Dean Rico C. Ancog cited the importance of EIA and highlighted that there should be a continuing effort in enhancing EIA in terms of concepts, methods, and procedures. He said that and this training course provides a conversation platform to hear and learn from the participants. “At the end of the day, we want to make sure that there is a community of EIA practitioners who are not just simply aware of what EIA is but who are very much passionate on how EIA will be implemented very well in the country”, he added. 

In his inspirational message, Dr. Ramon M. Docto, PNEE President, stated the importance of EIA in every profession and institution which is “to protect and manage our environment is tantamount to the increasing interest to many of our professionals.”

Engr. Divina C. Camarao, Chief of EIA Section of the DENR-EMB provided an Introduction and Overview of PEISS and EIA: EIA as a Planning, Management, and Regulatory Tool, and the Laws, Policies and Institutional Arrangements for EIA System. Meanwhile, For. Riza C. Arjona, a Senior Environmental Management Specialist of the DENR-EMB discussed the Categories of EIA, EIA Process and Decision-Making. 

In the afternoon session of the first day, Dr. Eduardo C. Calzeta, Assistant Professor of SESAM, presented EIA in the Context of Sustainable Development and Carrying Capacity as Integrated in the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System (PEISS).

Resource speakers from SESAM-UPLB lectured on Baseline Information and Data Collection. Dr. Decibel V. Faustino-Eslava, discussed the Biophysical (Geology, Soil, and Land Use) and Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation as Integrated in the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System (PEISS); Dr. Loucel Cui lectured on Water Quality Analysis and Terrestrial Aquatic Ecosystems; Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez presented water resources quantification; and Dr. Badi R. Samaniego wrapped up day two imparting on Marine Ecosystems.

Dr. Pastor L. Malabrigo, Jr. of the College of Forestry and Natural Resources-UPLB tackled Biodiversity for Terrestrial Ecosystems, followed by Dr. Evaristo Niño T. Cando III who discussed the people component of the PEISS (Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA). In the afternoon session of day three, Baseline Information/Data Collection and Environmental Impact Assessment on Air and Climate was discussed by Dr. Alma Lorelei D. Abejero, followed by Dr. Ancog who gave a lecture on Environmental Economics.

On day four, Dr. Victor B. Molina, Professor of the College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila, discussed Health Impact Assessment (HIA). Dr. Marisa J. Sobremisana, SESAM Professor, shared information on Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) as Integrated in the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System (PEISS). During the afternoon session, Dr. Calzeta presented Environmental Management Plan (EMP), Environmental Monitoring Plan (EMoP), Social Development Plan (SDP), and Preparation of Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

On the final day, Dr. Hussein S. Lidasan, Professor and Former Dean at the School of Urban and Regional Planning in UP Diliman and a member of the EIA Review Committee of the Environmental Management Bureau, presented the Review of EIA Quality and Decision-Making. 

A workshop followed on EIA case studies which was facilitated by For. Sofia A. Alaira, Dr. Thaddeus P. Lawas, Ms. Cherry S. Padilla, Ms. Jessa O. Aquino-Cando, Mr. Robert Patrick M. Cabangbang, and Dr. Alma Lorelei DJ. Abejero. The outputs were presented by the groups and critiqued by Dr. Lidasan. 

In the closing program, For. Alaira delivered a synthesis of the five-day event, while Dr. Rolando A. Alimen, PNEE Vice President, congratulated the participants who completed the training in his closing message. (TPLawas and JOAquino-Cando).

SESAM brings DRR, sustainable mining, and climate-smart agriculture technologies to exhibits

The UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM), through the Earth Systems Research Team Laboratory – EaRTLab, participated in a series of technology expo and exhibitions across the country. The events showcased technologies on disaster risk reduction and management, sustainable mining, and climate-smart agriculture in the different regions. 

In coordination with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), SESAM showcased two DOST-funded projects in the HANDA Pilipinas: Innovations in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Expo 2023 Luzon Leg which was held at the World Trade Center, Pasay City from July 27-29, and for the Mindanao Leg from October 4-6 at the Limketkai Atrium, Cagayan de Oro City. Project Landslide Investigations for Geohazards for Timely Advisories in the Philippines (Project LIGTAS) showcased its national landslide database and rainfall-induced landslide early warning system (RILEWs) with the component on citizen science reporting, and the LIGTAS portal (www.ligtas.edu.ph). The project “Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines (Project SARAi)” showcased its developed climate-smart technologies and systems, including the Smarter Pest Identification Technology or SPIDTECH, and the Community-Level Enhanced Agricultural Monitoring System (C-L SEAMS), among others. Bringing HANDA around the country, the same set of technologies were also showcased in the HANDA Pilipinas 2023 – Visayas Leg held last November 8-10, at Summit Hotel, Tacloban City.  Dr. Loucel E. Cui, LIGTAS Project Staff also presented Project LIGTAS under the DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) monitored projects in the Paglikay: Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Technologies Forum.

Spearheaded by the DOST-CARAGA, SARAi also joined in the celebration of the 2023 Regional Science, Technology and Innovation Week (RSTW) in CARAGA Region last 29 September to 1  October 2023, at Provincial Gymnasium, Surigao City, Surigao del Norte. The systems and technologies of SARAi were exhibited in the three-day event along with other contributions of science and technology to national development. During the RSTW, Dr. Decibel V. Faustino-Eslava, SARAi project leader, also represented Project SARAi in the Policy Brief Presentation, Technology Pitching and Forum on DOST Research and Development Outputs.

Another RSTW also featured Project LIGTAS, Project PAMANA, and Project SARAi in Region 1 from October 16-18 at the Ilocos Norte Centennial Arena, Laoag City. The Project Philippine Mining at the National to Catchment Scale: From Legacy Impacts to Sustainable Futures (Project PAMANA) was also featured in the exhibit. This three-day event was organized by DOST Region 1 and promoted important projects, scientific discoveries, and technological achievements that support inclusive socioeconomic growth in the region.

The participation of SESAM in these series of exhibits and info caravans was facilitated by Dr. Eslava, Dr. Loucel E. Cui and EartLab Researchers, Ms. Maria Regina V. Regalado, Ms. Bianca Marie Laureanna Pedrezuela, Mr. Kim Bryan Cabrera, and SESAM Research Associate, Ms. Rosemarie Laila D. Areglado. (RLDAreglado, MRVRegalado, JJRapisura, BMLPedrezuela, KBCabrera)

Project SARAi hosts a training on Real Time Weather Forecasting using Automatic Weather Station

Project SARAi or the Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines, in partnership with the Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Division – Management Information Office (PMED-MIS) of the Department of Agriculture, Region 4A, conducted a training on “Automatic Weather Station, Installation, Maintenance and Weather Data Acquisition and Interpretation” at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Brgy. Bambang, Los Baños, Laguna. The training aimed to capacitate the participants from the PMED-MIS office of DA Region 4A to manage their own automatic weather stations and provide digital agricultural services to their region. It was designed to include lecture presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on activities. 

The training commenced with the opening message from Dr. Decibel V. Eslava, SARAi-Integration Project Leader, in which she mentioned that the training plans for automatic weather stations have finally come to fruition after months of planning. She also emphasized the significant role of PMED-MIS in digital agriculture and expressed her sincere gratitude for their continuous support to the project. 

SARAi project consultant, Prof. Nelio C. Altoveros gave a comprehensive discussion on automatic weather stations in which he tackled sensors, modules, and real-time data, including short and long-term forecasts. A light but engaging hands-on activity on how to assemble automatic weather stations was also done, facilitated by Mr. Rendendo Mata, a SARAi project consultant. 

The program included lectures and demonstrations on real-time weather data downloading, processing, and analyzing, which were also led by Prof. Altoveros. A part of the session also gave the opportunity for the participants to perform their own sample data processing and analysis. 

SARAi Project Staff and Asst. Prof. Aldrin Hao of the UPLB Institute of Computer Science, College of Arts and Sciences (ICS-CAS) discussed web data visualization and API essentials, which the participants testified to be one of the essential parts of the training. Asst. Prof. Hao also facilitated hands-on activities with the participants to assist them in learning the technical methods to visualize web data.  

The training concluded with the closing message from Ms. Julany G. Castillo, Head of PMED-MIS Office. Ms. Castillo conveyed her heartfelt appreciation towards Project SARAi for its support in their training needs, and commended everyone for a job well done. She believed that this was not the end but merely the beginning of more future collaborations with Project SARAi. (KCTenio, RLDAreglado, MEMAmante, MRVRegalado)

UPLB SESAM’s 1HEALTH Project holds virtual capacity building on surveillance and diagnosis of ASF, AI, and AMR

The 1HEALTH Project of the School of Environmental Science and Management, University of the Philippines Los Baños, held the “One Health Webinar: Field Surveillance and Laboratory Diagnosis of African Swine Fever (ASF), Avian Influenza (AI), and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) via Zoom and Facebook Live last October 24, 2023. The virtual knowledge-sharing and learning exchange forum gathered experts from the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI), DA-National Meat Inspection Services (DA-NMIS), Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB), Department of Health – Pharmaceutical Division (DOH-PD), and the DOH-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM) to present and discuss the protocols in controlling and managing the aforementioned notifiable livestock and poultry threats, known to many as the Big Three As of the country’s food animal industry specifically of the livestock and poultry sector.

Over a hundred representatives from the project’s partner State University and Colleges (SUCs), provincial and municipal Local Government Units (P/MLGUs), provincial veterinary and agricultural offices, regional quarantine bureaus, and the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratories (RADDLs) from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao actively participated in the one-day webinar. 

The 1HEALTH Project Leader, Dr. Yusuf A. Sucol, opened the program by welcoming the resource speakers and participants on behalf of the SESAM Dean, Dr. Rico C. Ancog, the project’s technical reviewer and advisor. Dr. Sucol also gave an overview of the project and discussed the concept and aim of the webinar, which is to equip the participants with practical knowledge on surveillance and laboratory diagnosis protocols and algorithms being implemented in the Philippines.

The webinar was divided into four segments – ASF, AI, Wildlife Surveillance, and AMR in the animal and human health sector, respectively – which were then followed by an open forum where participants can forward their questions to the concerned resource speakers. The ASF segment was led by Dr. Joanna Marie David, Dr. Janice Garcia, Dr. Rachel Azul, and Dr. Imelda Santos of DA BAI, while the AI segment was handled by Dr. Olivia Pungtilan and Dr. Edna Felipe, also from DA-BAI. For the wildlife surveillance segment, Dr. Rizza Araceli Salinas of DENR BMB steered the discussion. The AMR segment in the context of animal health was led by Dr. Gladys Quiatchon of DA BAI and Ms. Remedios Micu of NMIS, while Dr. Sonia Sia of RITM and Ms. Johanna Mallari-Abella handled the discussion on AMR stewardship and surveillance in the public health sector. 

Among the SUCs who attended the webinar, Dr. Elizabeth Molina, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine – University of Southern Mindanao (CVM-USM), expressed her gratitude to the project for organizing the webinar and to the resource speakers who diligently addressed queries from the participants. Dr. Molina acknowledged the webinar as an avenue for different sectors to pool in their knowledge and expertise in tackling transboundary animal disease (TADs) and emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) that affect animal, human, and environmental health altogether. She further stressed that such activity is significant for government agencies, academe, LGUs, and the private sector to share dialogues on how to effectively and inclusively implement sustainable solutions to disease surveillance in the country and to form and strengthen partnerships across sectors and disciplines.

In his closing message, Dr. Sucol emphasized that the webinar was just one of a series of capacity building activities of the project and that its overall goal is to promote the One Health concept and advance the project’s operationalization of the One Health approach through these four strategic mechanisms and unifying pathways for various stakeholders working together at the human-animal-environment interface: communication, coordination, collaboration, and capacity building. Foremost, Dr. Sucol  said that his team wanted to facilitate a support platform and complementing initiative for the participants to be able to have a comprehensive and in-depth understanding and practical knowledge of the importance of field and laboratory surveillance in preventing and controlling the spread of animal diseases, enhance their capacities, and be able to adapt and respond proactively to avoid or minimize disease impacts and threats on both animal and human health, the environment, livelihoods, and the economy. In addition, Dr. Sucol recognized the need to further  highlight the role, programs, policies, action plans, and services of key government agencies, such as the DA, DOH and DENR in One Health animal disease field and laboratory surveillance and in the overall disease outbreak preparedness and response management (i.e., ASF, AI, AMR). Moreover, Dr. Sucol believed that the webinar or such activity will help foster and unify One Health rationalization, harmonization, complementation, and collaboration among participants and target partners/beneficiaries from the different government agencies, institutions, sectors, and public or private organizations involved in One Health advancement.

The Philippine livestock industry grapples with the persistent presence of ASF, AI, and AMR. Recognizing the gravity of these challenges, the 1HEALTH Project, which stands for ‘One Human-Environment-Animal Linkage for Total Health’, advocates for robust surveillance programs and holistic interventions that are guided by evidence-based research and policy development to proactively mitigate food animal disease outbreaks in the Philippines. (Christine Mae B. Santos and Maria Anthea B. Faltado)

SESAM fetes 2023 distinguished alumni during loyalty day symposium

The School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines Los Baños (SESAM-UPLB) celebrated the 105th Loyalty Day with an alumni homecoming symposium last October 9, 2023 at the SESAM Academic Quadrangle. 

With this year’s Loyalty Day theme “UPLB Alumni Moving Towards Sustainable Stewardship of Natural resources”, SESAM feted four distinguished alumni who were outstanding on their respective fields. 

The four 2023 distinguished alumni awardees were For. Edna D. Nuestro for government service; Dr. Patricia Anne G. Nazareno for Academic Leadership; Mr. Robert G. Bernardo for International Service; and Dr. Zin Mar Lwin for Environmental Safety Advocacy. 

During the opening program, Dr. Mari-Ann M. Acedera, President SESAM Alumni Association mentioned that SESAM alumni always look forward to attending the loyalty day as they take the opportunity to not just to reunite with colleagues and friends but to commemorate UPLB’s strengths and recall the sacrifices of the pioneers that stands for the honor, service and excellence.

In his message, Dr. Rico C. Ancog, Dean of SESAM-UPLB said the holding of this symposium will highlight the work and the contribution and the accomplishments of this year’s awardees who then reflect of the quality of the alumni that we have produced all these years. 

For. Sofia Alaira, SESAM Alumni Relations Officer and Secretary, SESAM Alumni Association said that the aim of this symposium to fete the distinguished alumni of the school and recognition of their exemplary performance of their mandates in their respective sectors. 

For. Nuestro, graduated MS Environmental Studies in 1997 is currently the OIC-Assistant Director of the Forest Management Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (FMB-DENR). She emphasized that the strategies currently implemented by the DENR are as follows: the Ecosystems-Based Approach; Integrated Water Resources Management; establishment of a national resource geospatial database; and nature-based collusions. In the state of the Philippine Forest, For. Nuestro said the FMB is focused on the increase of forest cover of the country, which is currently 2% in the prescribed five-year period. “Currently, we have 15 million hectares of forest land, however, only 7.2% have forest cover”, she added. 

Dr. Nazareno, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs UP Cebu, who graduated MS Environmental Studies in 1999 and PhD Environmental Science in 2010, stressed that in caring for the environment, there must be a passion. “As faculty, REPS and administrative staff, it is our profession to care of the environment, however if we think about it as work, sometimes it becomes tiring, frustrating and stressful, that’s why we need to have the passion for it, and I saw this passion from my professors when I was a student and this inspired me”, she added. Dr. Nazareno’s research interests include waste management, utilization of underutilized natural materials for environmental rehabilitation and food security; and water quality assessment.

Mr. Bernardo, graduated MS Environmental Science in 2001 is currently the Team Leader, Governance and Peacebuilding Team, UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub, Regional Bureau for Europe and CIS. “I am truly humbled and grateful for this recognition that UPLB-SESAM have accorded me… after graduation in 2001, I had an inspiring and challenging journey in my career and this won’t be possible without the wheels and wings that equip me during my student days”, Mr. Bernardo said.

Dr. Lwin who graduated Ph. D. Environmental Science in 2013, is currently a principal consultant in SESAM and working for ESIA study of Mandalay-Bagan Railway-Road rehabilitation project of MOT. The 2023 Distinguished Alumnae for Environmental Safety and Advocacy is also the head of department of the Environmental Science of Dekina ABMI and she provides technical trainings and services for farmers. “This award is very meaningful to me, not only because it recognized my work, but especially because it shows increased recognition of the importance of environmental safety advocacy“, Dr. Lwin stressed. 

In her closing message, Dr. Maria Victoria O. Espaldon, former SESAM Dean and UPLB Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension, congratulated the awardees for their achievements. “SESAM has produced a great number of professionals from different countries who are contributing to nation building, job creation and in their efforts to overtake and be adaptive in the new environment” she said. 

SESAM faculty, REPS, administrative staff, project staff and students, as well as officers of the SESAM Alumni Association attended this hybrid alumni symposium.

We borrowed our water resources from the future generation- Gen. Trias Mayor

This was stressed by Mayor Luis “Jon-Jon” A. Ferrer of General Trias, Cavite during the Water Resources Sustainability Forum last September 1, 2023 at the Audio Visual Room, General Trias City Hall, Cavite. 

The School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines Los Baños through the Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD) and the Research Division have been invited to coordinate this forum as an initial step towards the development of a collaborative project proposal with the City of General Trias, Cavite. The research and development proposal will assess the city’s water resources and the conduct of a capacity building. 

In his message, Dr. Rico C. Ancog, SESAM Dean, conveyed his gratitude to the City of General Trias, Cavite for collaborating with the academe in this forum to address challenges on water security of the city. He also reiterated that SESAM-UPLB will continue to support the LGU in a possible conduct of a study of its water resources.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ferrer said that the importance of this forum is to invite all stakeholders involved in the management of water resources in his jurisdiction. “We borrowed our water resources from our children and our grandchildren, that is why we should act now to prevent any crisis in the future”, Mayor Ferrer stressed. He also thanked SESAM-UPLB for sending experts in the forum to provide insights and information on water resources.

Engr. Jemie P. Cubillo, City Planning and Development Coordinator, General Trias City discussed the state of the water resources in General Trias City. He tackled the primary sources, major consumers, forecast and future uses.

Dean Ancog discussed understanding water resources depletion through valuation and accounting. SESAM Professors Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez and Dr. Eduardo C. Calzeta lectured on tools and approaches in water quantity and quality assessment and management, and understanding watershed dynamics and climate change vulnerability of water resources, respectively.

Also invited were speakers from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), namely Engr. Divina C. Camarao and For. Riza C. Arjona who discussed water policies and laws in the Philippines.

SESAM University Researchers Dr. Alma Lorelei D. Abejero presented the integrated water resource management, while Ms. Jessa O. Aquino, En.P. explained the mechanics of the world café workshop. Members of SESAM-CETD facilitated the workshop to talk about priority needs and response assessment for effective water resources management of General Trias City. 

About 80 participants including LGU officials and staff, representatives of water concessionaires and homeowners association, and other stakeholders attended the forum. SESAM and the City of General Trias aims to pursue more collaborative project that will follow a more robust academe-LGU collaborative model on key environmental issues.

SESAM launches One Health mobile lab

In a significant stride towards enhancing innovation and accessibility and extending to areas in need of emergency response, educational institutions, and communities, the 1HEALTH Program Mobile Laboratory was officially blessed and launched on August 29, 2023.

The 1HEALTH Mobile Laboratory is intended for the ACIAR-IDRC-funded project through the University of the Philippines Los Banos Foundation Inc. (UPLBFI) led by Dr. Yusuf A. Sucol entitled, “Country Research Update and Policy Support to the Philippines’ National Surveillance and Control Programs for African Swine Fever, Avian Influenza, and Antimicrobial Resistance: A One Health Systems Approach to Food Animal Security, Public Health Resiliency, and Environment Sustainability.” ACIAR-IDRC stands for the co-investment partnership of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and Canada’s International Development Research Centre that started funding interventions recognizing the interconnection among human, animal, and environmental health known as AIRPOH or ACIAR/IDRC Research Program on One Health. 1HEALTH stands for One Human-Environment-Animal Linkage for Total Health which will support ongoing control and surveillance programs for the holistic and sustainable management of ASF, AI, and AMR.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Rico C. Ancog, Dean of the UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management, emphasized the significance of the project and the use of the mobile laboratory. In a notable tribute, Dean Ancog extended his heartfelt commendations to the dedicated 1HEALTH team, recognizing their instrumental role in bringing the mobile laboratory vision to fruition from its inception to the present day. Brimming with pride and elation, Dean Ancog expressed his profound satisfaction with the remarkable strides achieved by the project. Notably, the 1HEALTH initiative stands as one of only two ACIAR-IDRC-funded projects in the Philippines, both hailing from SESAM. Dean Ancog underscored his unwavering belief in the team’s capabilities, emphasizing his hope for the sustained delivery of exceptional outcomes and the perpetuation of such visionary endeavors.

Dr. Nathaniel Bantayan, Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension, delivered the message of the Chancellor, Dr. Jose V. Camacho, and shared his optimism: “Through rigorous research, data-driven insights, and evidence-based policy recommendations, the HEALTH project seeks to fortify the foundations of our national surveillance and control programs. By aligning our efforts across sectors, we can more effectively detect, prevent, and manage outbreaks, thereby safeguarding our food supply, protecting our population’s health, and preserving the environment for future generations.”

The event also witnessed heartfelt words from the director of UPLB Foundation Inc., Dr. Enrico P. Supangco, who expressed gratitude for the initiative. Dr. Supangco lends his resounding support to bolster financial management and streamline project procurement, allowing the project to center its efforts exclusively on research objectives while preemptively sidestepping potential future pitfalls. His resolute stance underscores the imperative for each project, extending beyond SESAM, to proactively avert the need for damage control by fostering robust communication with UPLBFI. 

Leading the 1HEALTH Project, Dr. Yusuf Sucol orchestrated an event that marked a significant milestone. He introduced the project leaders and team, providing a comprehensive project overview and extending gratitude to the key persons in bringing the initiative to reality. The ceremonial blessing of the mobile laboratory was led by Rev. Fr. Efren P. Montoya, who emphasized the profound impact of such endeavors in nurturing community unity and compassion.

The 1HEALTH Mobile Laboratory is set to embark on its maiden journey. As the wheels of the mobile laboratory start turning, they foster curiosity, innovation, and collaboration, and may it inspire generations to come. (Hannah Agatha Millares, Maria Anthea Fataldo, Paulliene Leanne  Masungsong, Christine Mae Santos, Cyrille Eliz Gregorio)