Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Passing By, Some Events Become Personal

Old-Time Friend Taking on New Responsibility

First off, let me congratulate Dr. Dong Rasco, Jr., who has just been appointed by P-Noy as Director of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).  Immediately prior to his appointment as PhilRice Director, Dr. Rasco was Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, U.P. Mindanao.  And prior to his transferring to U.P. Mindanao, Dr. Rasco was the  Director of UPLB’s Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB).  Earlier on, he was Chair of the Department of Horticulture, UPLB College of Agriculture.

Dong, as his contemporaries call him, was a prolific researcher and agricultural scientist.  In fact, a couple of years back he authored a book on biotechnology.  Dong is an action man, as much as he was a researcher-cum-scientist-cum professor.  I recall, when he was Director of IPB, he used to make early morning rounds of the experimental farms of his researchers at IPB.  One time, he saw an experimental plot that looked like it had more weeds than plants that were supposed to be under experiment.  Immediately, he rushed back to his office and himself fired-off a quick memo to all his researchers.  What did the memo say?   Simply, “I hate weeds!”

A pity he didn’t become UPLB Chancellor.  He would have done well as Chancellor.  Well, I’m sure he’d do well as Director of PhilRice.  That job is cut out for him.  I think we’re looking forward to a resurgence of meaningful, practical, and trail-blazing rice research once more in this country, reminiscent of the time when the former UPCA (now UPLB) developed the well-known C-4 rice varieties in the 60s through the efforts of the late National Scientist, Dr. Pedro B. Escuro.  Dong may be basically a horticulturist, but his intellectual and scientific skills as plant breeder will come in handy as he steers the course for PhilRice.

Congratulations, again, Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco, Jr. (Dong).  This has been a long time coming.


Past Acquaintance Revisits

 Yesterday, I got an email message from Dr. Lisa Brooten, Associate Professor, Dept., of Radio-Television, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL. She asked me to comment on a book chapter manuscript she has written on community radio.  A couple of years back, Dr. Brooten joined the UPLB College of Development Communication as Fullbright Scholar, researching on community broadcasting.  She did interview me during her one-semester stay in Los BaƱos.

I congratulate Dr. Brooten for her effort in writing a book chapter on community broadcasting, and included some experiences in the Philippines.  Her article shall appear as a chapter in the book titled Community Radio in 21st Century, edited by Gordon and Janey.  This book will be released next year (2011) by Peter Lang, publisher, in London.

Dr. Brooten is also working on her own book.  As a favor to a friend, therefore, I referred her to the book titled  Community Radio in Asia: Putting People in Charge, edited by another friend, Choy Arnaldo.  This book’s principal author is Louie Tabing, a long-time friend in development communication and community broadcasting.  The book came off the press in 2008.  I’m mighty proud to say I wrote the Preface of this book.  Not that the Preface is extremely significant content-wise.

Academics, researchers, practitioners, and students of community broadcasting should look forward to this book.  I’m sure, it will be a very rich source of the latest in community radio.


Talakayang Kagubatan at UPOU

I thought it was flippant, but Talakayang Kagubatan was actually serious.  This scientific forum held afternoon of July 26, 2011 at the UPOU Oblation Hall was participated in by more than 30 UPLB students, LGU officials, NGO representatives, and other guests. 

According to the organizers of the forum, this is part of the celebration of the International Year of the Forest, wherein the Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS) of UPOU has been very active.  There is reason for this.  The FMDS has to academic degree programs related to the environment, for which forests are a part.  These programs are Diploma in Environment and Natural Resources Management (DENRM), and the Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management (MENRM).  DENRM and MENRM are two of the highly visible degree programs offered by the UPOU.  What has made these program visible?  One of the alumni of DENRM is Vice President Jejomar Binay, and one of the alumni of MENRM is Senator Migz Zubiri.

The organizers of Talakayang Kagubatan were the UPOU-FMDS and the Yakap Kalikasan Tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Pilipinas, Inc., an NGO whose activities are focused on the promotion of healthy and vigorous forest ecosystems in the country.  The forum focused not on the trees, i.e., problems regarding illegal logging, and the like, but on services associated with forests, such as improving forest biodiversity, production of fresh air, and the like.

At the Forum, I ran into Dr. Rey dela Cruz, former Dean of the UPLB College of Forestry.  I told him about my interest in doing a “fun” research on forestry.  I mentioned to him that when I told another former UPLB College of Forestry Dean, Dr. Gil Fernandez, about the idea, he was amused by it.  Dean Dela Cruz asked me, “what might that be about?”  I said a trending study on forestry which requires the following data: graduates of forestry programs all over the Philippines from 1910 to the present and amount of forest cover of the entire Philippines from 1910 to the present.  I told him, “I’d like to plot number of forestry graduates against amount or area of forest cover.”

My suspicion: there’s an inverse relationship between the number of forestry graduates and the amount of forest cover of the country.  Why should this be?  I have a simple explanation.  Most if not all the degree programs in forestry in various universities in the country focus on use of forest products rather than on planting trees.  For example, there are more programs designed to train students to cut trees (i.e., wood engineering, lumber management, plywood production, etc.), than programs designed to train students to plant trees (i.e., silviculture)  Over the years, for instance, counting graduates of the UPLB College of Forestry, where I estimate there have been 30-50 majors in wood engineering or other related fields of specialization, there would be one or two majors in silviculture.  Wanna bet on this ratio?


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