Laguna Lake main focus of the LEAP Forum

LEAP group photo

The two-day Lake Ecosystem Assessment in the Philippines (LEAP) Forum on November 22-23, 2016 at Summit Ridge, Tagaytay City, tackled the present issues and concerns hounding Laguna Lake.

This forum aims at obtaining experts’ opinion and pertinent science-based information necessary in drafting multi-sectoral policy recommendations on reconditioning Laguna Lake. These recommendations will eventually be submitted to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for proper turnover to the concerned agencies such as the Office of the President, House of Representatives and the Senate. The forum also aims to establish a program template to be used as reference for future similar program targeting other lake ecosystems in the Philippines.

LEAP Chancellor Sanchez

UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. gave his welcome remarks and expressed his gratitude to all stakeholders in participating in this forum.

The forum proceedings will be published for dissemination to various stakeholders and policymakers. Among the papers presented includes the “Water Quality of Laguna de Bay in Relation to Biological Pollution by Dr. Macrina T. Zafaralla, Professor Emeritus, College of Arts and Sciences, UPLB; “Laguna de Bay Watersheds and Water Availability” by Dr. Guillermo Q. Tabios III, Professor, Institute of Civil Engineering, UP Diliman; “Assessment of Geophysical Hazards in Southwest Laguna de Bay: Insights from Geological; Geomorphological and Ground Penetrating Radar Data” by Dr. Noelynna T. Ramos, Professor, Natinal Institute of Geological Sciences, UP Diliman; “Estrogenic Pollutants: Impacts on Reproductive Health of Fish in Laguna de Bay” by Dr. Michelle V. Paraso, College of Veterinary Medicine, UPLB; and “Tourism and Other Ecotourism Services” by Dr. Nathaniel C. Bantayan, College of Forestry and Natural Resources, UPLB.

Invited are various stakeholders from LGUs situated along the shores of Laguna Lake, fisherfolk organizations, national government agencies and international research agencies.

Also presented during the forum is the House Bill on Creating the Laguna Lake Conservation Authority (LLCA), to repeal R.A. 4850 also known as the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) Act of 1966. The bill is authored by AKBAYAN Partylist Representative Tomasito Villarin. Mr. Conrad Castillo, Jr., Legisative Assistant, who represented the Congressman Villarin in the forum, said there is an urgent need to revise how the government is managing lakes, particularly the Laguna de Bay, which is severely affected by various economic, domestic and industrial factors. “This house bill is waiting for its first reading, possibly this week, and after that, automatically a technical working group will be established for this proposed law”, he said. “We welcome this forum initiated by SESAM-UPLB, and we are interested in continuing coordination with the academe”, Mr. Castillo added.

For his part, LLDA General Manager Neric Acosta, welcomes the proposal by Rep. Villarin, but he reminded that the proposal should not undermine the accomplishments made by the LLDA in the last 50 years. “LLDA has a clear mandate, which includes the conservation of Laguna Lake”, Mr. Acosta said. He also laments other problems, which makes it very difficult to manage the lake with other stakeholders due to several factors.  “Many LGUs in CALABARZON did not include the understanding of ecosystem in their land-use plans”, Mr. Acosta added.

The LEAP Forum is supported by the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP)-DOST, DENR-LLDA and the Deutsche Gesellschaft for Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

EIDR Project to Conduct LEAP Forum

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The University of the Philippines, in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST: National Research Council of the Philippines, DOST-National Capital Region, Technology Application and Promotion Institute and the National Academy of Science and Technology), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR: Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), the Environmental Management Bureau) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), will be organizing a two-day forum entitled “Lake Ecosystems Assessment in the Philippines (LEAP): A Science and Policy Forum for a Sustainable Laguna Lake Management”. The forum is to be held at the Summit Ridge Hotel, Tagaytay City from 22 to 23 November 2016.

In support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Administration goal of restoring the environmental integrity of Laguna Lake to benefit the members of grassroots communities along the shorelines, this two-day program primarily aims to draft a set of multi-sectoral policy recommendations pertaining to Laguna Lake management.

The two-day event is part of an on-going research program funded by the UP System’s Emerging Interdisciplinary Research (EIDR) Grant that aims to provide the most recent set of information for setting the future directions of Laguna Lake by looking at its bio-geophysical characteristics, pollution levels, watershed changes, and how its many communities envision the lake to eventually take shape. By partnering with DOST and DENR, these information will be utilized to formulate science-based policies for the integrated management of Laguna de Bay, and hopefully also of other large urban lakes.

Day 1 of the forum will provide a venue for the presentation of the most recent scientific information on the various aspects of the lake’s health. Day 2 will be a policy workshop that will utilize the environmental updates and baselines established by the preceding papers. Presentations made on the first day will be transcribed, edited, reviewed, and published into a book, with permission from the presenters, to serve as a comprehensive reference material on Laguna Lake. Outputs of the second day will be packaged as policy papers for submission to relevant groups for lobbying towards a sustainable integrated management of the lake. 

SESAM, ICLEI and Santa Rosa City LGU Conducts Capacity-building for Urban Agriculture

Urban Agri1

From left to right: Mr. Garry Hidalgo (Urban Agriculture Expert), Noel Villodres (Horticulturist), Mr. Ranell Dedicatoria, Program Manager, ICLEI, Dr. Rico Ancog (Project Leader), Ms. Linda Creencia (City ENRO) and Dra. Sonia Algabre (city councilor) during the ribbon cutting ceremony and unveiling of the urban agriculture demo park.


The pioneering project Building Capacity for Urban Agriculture in the City of Santa Rosa, Philippines, funded through the ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability South East Asia, Inc.-ACCCRN (ASEAN Cities Climate Change Resilience Network) Engagement Building Small Grants program was implemented by the School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines Los Baños together with the City Government of Santa Rosa. This initiative identifies strategies on how to integrate urban agriculture in local planning. One of the major outputs is to raise awareness on urban agriculture through a capacity building training targeting various stakeholders from both private and public sector groups.

A whole day capacity building training was held last October 13 at the Santa Rosa City. Representatives from the City Agriculture Office, City Planning and Development Office, City Engineering Office, City Assessor’s Office, City Cooperative and Development Office, Sangguniang Panlungsod, Philippine National Police and barangays Dita, Balibago and Aplaya attended. Representatives from Toyota Autoparts also attended the training.

Councilor Roy Gonzales of Santa Rosa City identified some of the projects of Santa Rosa that are geared towards environment protection, one of their priority projects included urban agriculture. Ranell Dedicatoria, program manager of ICLEI-South East Asia, also shared a welcome message to the participants. Meanwhile, Dr. Rico Ancog, project leader and faculty at the SESAM-UPLB, presented the project overview and a review of the project activities including the completion of the pilot site construction at Barangay Sinalhan, Santa Rosa City.

Urban Agri2

The Urban Agriculture demo park in Barangay SInalhan, Santa Rosa City, Laguna features different tyoes of containerized farming.

 The training consisted of two sessions. The morning session involved lectures covering topics on sustainability of the production system and urban agriculture as a strategy for climate change adaptation. The afternoon session of the training included the ribbon cutting ceremony and unveiling of the urban agriculture demo park in Barangay Sinalhan followed by the on-site training. Project consultants Noel Villodres (Horticulturist), Garry Hidalgo (Urban Agriculture Expert) and Architect Therese Santiano (Urban Planner) served as lecturers and facilitators.

The training was coordinated and organized by the urban agriculture project staff Ayesha Sarapuddin and Clarissa Ruzol, with the support from the City Environment and Natural Resource Office of Santa Rosa City headed by Ms. Linda Creencia. (Ayesha Sarapuddin)

EIDR Project Conducts Focus Group Discussion

EIDR FGDDr. Antonio J. Alcantara, Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer (MENRO) of Los Baños LGU and former professor, SESAM, elaborates some environmental issues affecting the municipality during the FGD of the EIDR project last October 21, 2016 at SESAM-UPLB. 

The Emerging Interdisciplinary Research (EIDR) Program conducted a Focus Group Discussion on Assessing Socio-Ecological Systems (SES): Visioning Sustainable Futures of Laguna de Bay, last October 21, 2016 at SESAM Lecture Hall, UPLB. 

The FGD was attended by local government officials of Laguna, national agency officers, Bantay-Lawa officials and representatives from the academe. The EIDR Program Cycle 6 is implementing the project "Ten Years After the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment of Laguna de Bay: towards a Sustainable Future". 
It aims to study geophysical hazards in the area and understand their potential impacts to communities for their consideration in their development plans; pollution, which characterize the lake in terms of pollution levels through the analyses of water and sediment samples and develop pollution monitoring proxies using environmental magnetism; socio-eco millennium ecosystem assessment, which aims to produce a synthesis of state-of-the-art information on Laguna de Bay and generate new baselines and provide indicators on how the targets recommended after the MA have been met or missed; and watershed, which aims to characterize the biophysical aspects of the watersheds and evaluate land use changes and identify critical areas through watershed vulnerability assessment.
EIDR is a collaboration of the School of Environmental Science and Management, College of Forestry and Natural Resources-UPLB, Rushurgent Working Group, National Institute of Geological Sciences-UP Diliman, Institute of Chemistry, Department of Physical Sciences and Mathematics-UP Manila and School of Civil, Environmental and Geologic Engineering, Mapua Institute of Technology. 

DENR Usec. Jonas Leones is SESAM's 2016 Outstanding Alumni

Usec Leones

2016 Outstanding Alumni. Atty. Jonas R. Leones, Undersecretary, DENR (left) lectures on the latest ventures of the DENR. Dr. Rico Ancog (middle), President of SESAM Alumni Association and Dr. Decibel F. Eslava (right), Dean of SESAM, led the Alumni Homecoming activities of SESAM.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Jonas R. Leones is SESAM's 2016 Outstanding Alumni for Government Service. Atty. Leones, who is the Undersecretary for International Affairs and Foreign Assisted Programs, is an MS Environmental Science graduate in 2000. 

This year's theme "Strategic Environmental Governance by Sustainable Develoment Goal", the SESAM Alumni Homecoming and symposium invited more than 70 faculty, staff, students and alumni, as part of the 98th UPLB Loyalty Day celebration, October 10, 2016.

According to Usec. Leones, DENR is conducting several activities such as hazard mapping, the National Greening Program (NGP) and coastal resources management. "We cannot really mitigate the effects of climate change, what we can only do is to protect the future generations", Usec. Leones said.

"The first NGP was a learning experience for us", Usec. Leones stressed. He added the NGP is is now expanded starting this year until 2028. According to Usec. Leones, it is envisoned to plant 1.5 billion tress. 


Landslide Early Warning System Wins NAST 2016 Best Poster Contest


Best Poster. The Landslide Early Warning System research won the best poster during the 2016 AASSA-NAST PHL Workshop 2016. (From left) Dr. Rodel Lasco, Academician, NAST; Ms. Loucel E. Cui, University Resarch Associate, SESAM; Dr. Rhodora Azanza, Academician, NAST; Dr. Decibel F. Eslava; Dean, SESAM; and Dr. Fabian Dayrit, Academician, NAST.

The poster entitled “Developing a Multi-parameter Landslide Early Warning System for Geothermally Altered Regions” wins the best poster award during the Association of Academes and Societies in Asia-National Academy of Science and Technology (AASSA-NAST) PHL Workshop on the Role of Science Academies in Sustainable Development, held in Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay City last September 28 to 29, 2016. This workshop is in conjunction with the 2016 Climate Conference on Addressing Climate Risk for Sustainable Development.

The poster is co-authored by Dr. Decibel F. Eslava and Ms. Loucel E. Cui of SESAM; Drs. Nathaniel C. Bantayan, Rex Victor O. Cruz, Cristino L. Tiburan, Jan Joseph V. Dida, Edwin Combalicer of the College of Forestry and Natural Resources-UP Los Baños; Drs. Noelynna T. Ramos and Carla B. Dimalanta of the National Institute of Geological Sciences- UP Diliman; Dr. Graciano P. Yumul, Jr., Apex Mining Co. Inc.; Mr. Ozzy Boy Nicopior, College of Arts and Sciences, UP-Los Baños.

This research aims to develop a basic early warning system for geothermally altered areas by developing enhanced landslide susceptibility map and a dynamic rain intensity-duration threshold monitoring system; and to respond to disasters on time and avoid unnecessary losses.  

According to Dr. Rodel Lasco, Academician, NAST, the poster was both the top choice of the judges and it also got the highest number of votes from the participants of the workshop.

Scientists from the different national science academies of Japan, India, Jordan, Korea, United Kingdom, Kyrgyz Republic and the Philippines attended the AASSA-NAST PHL workshop and agreed to formulate a resolution to improve inter-academy partnerships and focus in climate change studies. Aside from these academicians and scientists, faculty members and researchers from private and state colleges and universities participated in the workshop.

Also part of the workshop exhibit, the Journal of Environmental Science and Management (JESAM), a Sciverse-Scopus and Thomson Reuters-Web of Science indexed journal, gave complementary issues to increase its reach to other schools and agencies. The editorial team, led by its Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Felino P. Lansigan, also invited more scientists and professors to submit articles for possible publication.