SESAM Alumni hails integrative and interdisciplinary approach for environmental science

SESAM AWARDEES 2017 copyDr. Digna O. Manzanila (left), Dr. Rusty G. Abanto (middle) and Ms. Indira L. Widmann (right) were the 2017 Outstanding alumni of SESAM.

The School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) held its Alumni Homecoming Symposium at the SESAM Lecture Hall, October 10, 2017 with the theme “Strengthening Environmental Science as an Integrative Science”. This symposium is part of the celebration of the UPLB 99th Loyalty Day and Alumni Homecoming.

This year’s SESAM outstanding alumna for research and development is Dr. Digna O. Manzanilla, PhD Environmental Science, 2001 and a former Scientist II, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).  Dr. Manzanilla said environmental science is integrative science, since it combines different disciplines and it is systems oriented. “Environmental changes are at a rapid phase and it is more challenging” Dr. Manzanilla stressed.

On the other hand, Ms. Indira Lacerna-Widmann, MS Environmental Science 1997 and the Chief Operating Officer, Katala Foundation, Inc. is the outstanding alumna for wildlife conservation and community empowerment. The Katala Foundation is the leading NGO that protects the Philippine Cockatoo, which is mostly found in Palawan. “It is really hard to implement conservation programs, since it is not top priority of the government like providing food for the hungry, but there is always hope protecting endangered species… we work with communities and protect the Philippine Cockatoo on site”, Ms. Widmann said.

Dr. Rusty G. Abanto, PhD Environmental Science, 2010, is the 2017 SESAM outstanding alumnus for Institutional Leadership. Dr. Abanto is currently the president of the Camarines Norte State College. Dr. Abanto said his training at SESAM helped him to become a better administrator as he was taught on how to integrate systematically. “Environmental science is interdisciplinary, it means you need another science to solve a problem” Dr. Abanto said. An educator for more than 20 years, Dr. Abanto noticed that environmental education is just seriously offered during college. “I noticed that environmental education is just given to a child once he entered college, but it should have started much earlier, in the basic or elementary level” he added.

Dr. Decibel F. Eslava, Dean, SESAM thanked all the SESAM alumni who visited and paid homage to their alma mater, as well the faculty, staff and students who helped in the preparations for the loyalty day and alumni homecoming activities. 

The alumni recognition and awarding ceremonies is in partnership with the SESAM Alumni Association, led by its President Dr. Rico C. Ancog. SESAM Alumni Association is an organization of SESAM graduates aimed at fostering a spirit of loyalty and professionalism. It aims to champion the strengthening of environmental science as a field of discipline and practice. Annually, SESAM and its alumni association selects distinguished alumni who excelled in their respective fields and practice. The awarding is in-line with the celebration of UPLB Loyalty Day.

Hosted by Engr. Alvin Joseph Dolores and Ms. Unice Roa, MS Environmental Science students and members of the UPLB Environmental Science Society, the symposium was attended by more than 100 SESAM alumni, faculty, staff and students.

SESAM joins 99th Loyalty Day parade

Loyalty day 2017

The School of Environmental Science and Management participated in the 99th Loyalty Day Parade at the D.L. Umali. Freedom Park, October 10, 2017. 

This year’s theme of SESAM for the parade is “Rising Up for the Environment!” All components of nature-- forests, oceans, flora, fauna and even the mythical creatures such as giants, dwarfs, fairies and jungle beings are all up-in-arms against the destructive activities done on the environment.

The UPLB Environmental Society performed a traditional dance with a modern twist from the rock version of the song entitled “Masdan mo ang Kapaligiran” by Xanctuary, based on the original song of the band Asin. The annual parade is one of the most awaited events during loyalty day, which is participated by UPLB units, organizations, students, jubilarians and even government and international organizations within the Los Baños vicinity. 

Climate Change Secretary urges Academe to link science to policy and practice

2Sec. Emmanuel de Guzman of the Climate Change Commision said all must work together to create highly adaptive communities.

“There is a need to link science, policy and practice in the context of climate action” said, Mr. Emmanuel De Guzman, Secretary and Vice-Chairperson, Climate Change Commission (CCC), during his keynote speech at the 2nd  International Conference on Climate Change Research and Development and 6th National Climate Research Conference held at the New College of Arts and Sciences Auditorium, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

Sec. de Guzman stressed that the CCC wants to ensure all climate change programs are mainstreamed to national, local and sectoral plans to establish climate-resilient and climate-smart communities.

The conference is a joint activity of the National Academy of Science and Technology-Department of Science and Technology (NAST-DOST), UPLB, CCC, Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), Oscar M. Lopez Center (OMLC), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Studies and Research for Agriculture (SEAMEO-SEARCA).

With the theme “Linking Science and Policies
to Climate and Disaster Risks Management“, the conference aims to further enhance the scientific learning ground and practical exchange platform for sharing expertise, practices, and experiences on climate change and disaster actions that will benefit communities, the government, industries, the academe, and other key sectors involved in nation-building.

Dr. Renato Solidum, Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change and Director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), DOST, elaborated the importance of knowing the climate issues and further developing strategies to combat the harsh effects of climate change. “Let us develop more technologies for climate change mitigation and adaptation” Dr. Solidum said.

In his message, Dr. William Padolina, NAST, echoed the statement of Sec. de Guzman regarding the importance of the collaboration of science and policy in climate change. Other NAST Academicians also present were Drs. Rafael Guerero, Eliezer Albacea, Guillermo Tabios III and Ceferino Maala.

Dr. Felino P. Lansigan, co-chair of the UPLB Climate and Disaster Risk Studies Center (CDRSC), said this conference is in-line with the center’s motto “finding solutions towards resilient communities”. UPLB students, faculty and staff attended this conference, as well as representatives from the national government agencies, local government Units (LGUs) and international research organization. Various papers and posters were presented during the plenary and parallel sessions.


UPLB-CDRS Center to host 2nd ICCCRD 2017



The University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB)-Climate and Disaster Risks Studies Center (CDRSC), in cooperation with the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and Climate Change Commission (CCC) will host the 2nd International Conference on Climate Change Research and Development 2017 (ICCCRD 2017) and the 6th National Climate Research Conference 2017(6th NCRC 2017), on September 27 to 28, 2017 at the New College of Arts Sciences (NCAS) Auditorium. This event is also supported by Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Oscar M. Lopez Center (OML) and Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research for Agriculture (SEAMEO-SEARCA).

This conference aims to provide a forum for presentation and discussion of recent scientific information and research findings on hazards, disaster risks and impacts of climate change on global and local levels and their interventions; Allow for exchanges of knowledge, products and practices, and sharing of learnings and experiences on climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM); Define commitment and identify leadership roles on climate and disaster research and development; Strengthen linkages, networks, partnerships and collaboration in research, extension, scholarship, academic and scientific discourses, exchange programs; and Synthesize climate research and development agenda and identify gaps and challenges for climate and disaster risks management.

Among the topics to be discussed will be climate and disaster risks management measures and strategies; general topics on climate change and disaster hazards/risks at different levels; enhancing adaptive capacity and building resilience of local communities; and Low emission practices and green technologies.

Created in May 2007, the CDRSC is hosted by the School of Environmental Science and Management. It is tasked to coordinate the climate change initiatives of the university. It is an interdisciplinary studies center whose members are professors and senior university researchers from the different colleges and school of UPLB. The Center is mandated to implement holistic inter- and trans- disciplinary research, development and extension (RDE) programs/ projects/activities towards the development and formulation of enhanced adaptive capacities, mitigative policy/technology measures, and coping strategies for agriculture, food security, the environment, and natural resources. The Center has also successfully organized national and international scientific meetings on climate change in the past years. The UPLB-CDRSC invites members of the Academe, research institutions, government agencies, LGUs, private groups, NGOs, CSOs to attend this event.

MODECERA conducts Site Visit and Data Gathering in Bagong Silang

DSC 4878 MODECERA 1Ms. Jessica Tapia, Research Assistant at SESAM, interviews a housewife at Barangay Bagong Silang, Los Baños, Laguna.

Members of the MODECERA (Monitoring and Detection of Ecosystems Changes for Enhancing Resilience and Adaptation in the Philippines) research team along with some faculty and staff from SESAM (School of Environmental Science and Management) visited one of the eight monitored ecosystems of the MODECERA program at the Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve in Barangay Bagong Silang, Los Baños, Laguna last Wednesday, September 6, 2017. This visit was for the completion of the survey on socio-economic resilience study for the program.

The site was accessible through various routes. The team accessed the road entrance located along F.T. San Luis Avenue, Bay, Laguna. To reach the site, an hour long trek was needed. The area chosen for the interview, Purok 1, is a small community at the middle of the barangay where most residents of the barangay frequent due to the elementary school located there. A total of 35 residents in the purok were interviewed.

Among the respondents was former Barangay Councilor Esiong Dalma, who felt that Bagong Silang is still isolated 10 years after  the tragedy of Typhoon Milenyo in 2007. Despite the solar panels now giving electricity to the Barangay Bagong Silang Elementay School, he said it is not enough to give convenience to all students. "We hope our barangay hall also will have solar panels soon so we can have lights during the night and power up other equipment" said Mr. Dalma.

Solar power Bagong SilangSolar panels provided by Sunpower are now used to provide electricity at Bagong Silang Elementary School.

Questions asked were anchored on the five climate resilience index: physical infrastructure available, social coherence, economic condition, institutional integrity, and occurrence of natural hazards.  MODECERA project staff, For. Sofia A. Alaira, with other SESAM research assistants namely, Jessica Tapia, Laurence Dimasuay, Ria Gapaz, Henry Ramos conducted interviews with residents of Brgy. Bagong Silang. SESAM researchers Mr. Thaddeus P. Lawas and Simplicio Veluz documented the fieldwork. (Justine Angelo Lacson and Thad Lawas)

SESAM orients new students

CMR orientation

Dr. Carmelita M. Rebancos, Professor, thanked all students who attended the SESAM orientation.


The School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM), in cooperation with the UPLB Environmental Science Society (ENVISOC) conducted a back-to-back orientation and general assembly, September 08, 2017 at SESAM Lecture Hall.


Dr. Carmelita Rebancos, Professor and Chair, Program for Instruction, expressed her appreciation to all students who enrolled in the MS and PhD environmental science program. She told the students to study hard, focus and wished all students to have a pleasant time conducting their graduate studies and enjoy their stay at SESAM. 


Mr. Bertrand Aldous L. Santillan, auditor of UPLB ENVISOC, introduced the faculty members of SESAM, as well as the current programs and projects being conducted by the school. On her part, Dr. Loucel E. Cui, a University Research Associate II, introduced SESAM’s teaching laboratories and the policies covering its utilization and access for SESAM students.


The UPLB Envisoc, now in its 10th year, aims to be a functional organization of the SESAM students. Ms. Mylene L. Magistrado, president of the UPLB ENVISOC, is currently taking her MS environmental science. "We currently have 30 active members of the society", said Ms. Magistrado.


During the assembly, Mr. Gerald M. Salas, MS Environmental Science student and current vice president of the society, stressed that the organization is also in-line with the mandates of SESAM. He also encouraged other SESAM students, including the foreigners to join the society.


More than 50 students and SESAM faculty and staff attended the activity.