Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Updates at My End

Another Book Out
I’m extremely pleased to announce that my last book, Writing Your Thesis, is just out of the press.  This book was published by the UPOU Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services (OASIS). It was designed as reference for students (of UPOU and other universities) doing their theses or research projects.  Personally, I would love it if more students from universities in the Philippines other than UP would use it.

This book is a sequel to the first one that I wrote in the early eighties, which saw the publication of three editions, all published by the UPLB College of Agriculture.  When I was asked to do a fourth edition of such book, I thought that any additional material would warrant a new book all together.  Hence, this new volume. 

This current volume has extensive discussions about a number of new topics, such as an extended treatment of how to write the discussion chapter of the thesis, particularly techniques in visualizing research results.  One of the reviewers of the book commented that this was her first time to see a book of this nature providing extended explanation of why research results needed to be visualized other than in textual form.  Normally, she observed, thesis advisers gloss over this very important topic.  Too, there’s discussion about plagiarism, which is something that has become rather frequently discussed in media today.

Well, I’ve been teaching science communication and I feel that even theses could be presented in more understandable form.  One way of achieving this is through visualization of results.  So, in this book there are discussions on how to use statistical tables, graphics and charts, illustrations and drawings, and pictures.

The original book titled How To Write A thesis Proposal, I’m very proud to say, has been cited internationally, even if not frequently.  I hope this current version would be read by more.  I can say it is a vastly improved version.

The UPOU-OASIS is still determining how much it would cost, but certainly it wouldn’t be expensive because our intention is to get as many Filipino students as possible to use it.  Interested parties may link-up with the UPOU-OASIS (, and place your orders.  It’s pretty quick since the book is under UPOU’s print-on-demand program. 

I’m prepared to travel to universities upon invitation to discuss this book and its content in an effort to promote research among students and to share information about the significance of plagiarism as an ethical issue in the academe.


The second semester is almost in, and there are a lot of things that I need to do before then.  Perhaps I won’t be able to deliver on what I’ve said I’d be doing.   One of the things I had been wanting to do is undertake a content analysis of the electronic discussions in my courses.  Thus far, I’ve produced hard copies of the e-discussions in my following courses: DEVC 263, SCED 250, Comm 320, and Comm 360.  Each course has at least 500 pages of transcriptions.

Of course, I know exactly what transpired in those electronic discussions, but I’d like to be able to present more systematically, perhaps in a journal article, what it means of have electronic discussions ion courses offered online in the Philippines. 

To be sure, there are many problems in electronic discussions in courses delivered online in the Philippines, among which may include small bandwidths, unreliable Internet connections in distant places, and things like that.  I’ve had students reporting to me that they had to take a banca from their places of assignments (that’s where they teach in elementary schools) in island-villages to town and look for Internet Café so they could upload their submissions and read postings from their classmates.  Frequently, these teacher (pursuing their master’s degrees from the UPOU), need to travel untold distances just so they could comply with the online requirements of their courses.  One can only commend such efforts of many UPOU students.


Here’s a very encouraging event.

For the first time in its 27 years, PhilRice collaborated with the UPLB-CA in organizing the first CALABARZON Region-Wide Farmers’ Field Day, this October 18th.  Theme of this field day was “Capturing Higher Rice Productivity Potentials.”  The focus was upland rice production, hence the sub-theme, “revitalizing Upland Rice Research.” 

“UPLB is the corporate headquarters of PhilRice, but this is the first time that we did this,” said Dr. Dong Rasco, Executive Director of PhilRice.  Then he turned to me and said, “don’t ask me why.”

The main upland rice variety highlighted in the field day was called “inipot-ibon.”  When I asked one of the researchers why the name, she said, “because the panicle is comprised of grains that look like bird droppings in color.”  This variety originated from Quezon.  This rice variety has smaller grains compared to the modern varieties, but it is aromatic.  Well, most upland race varieties are aromatic, especially when they’re newly harvested.

The Philippines has some 4.5 million hectares of rice land, but only 100,000 hectares are planted to upland varieties.  These numbers alone tell us that upland rice comprises very small proportion of our rice production and food.  But considering the effects of climate change, which could be mostly dry spells, then we could end-up planting more upland varieties.  Unfortunately, these varieties give lower yields because they don’t get enough water.  As the farmers will tell you, rice is one that requires a lot of water.  In fact, to produce one kilogram of milled rice, one needs some 55,000 liters of water.

An interesting sidelight of the field day was the distribution of “bayong” made of pandan leaves, courtesy of Laguna Vice Governor Ceasar Perez.  All farmers, while moving around the demonstration site at the UPLB-CA Experimental Farm, were carrying bayong.  “By and by, all these will have rice panicles in their respective bayongs,” observed Dr. Rasco.  He was, of course, referring to the farmers being very enterprising by collecting matured rice grains which they will eventually plant in their respective farms.

Upland rice is close to my heart.  This is what we used to plant in Batanes, in my younger days.  Years ago, we planted upland rice for home consumption.  We didn’t plant the modern varieties because there’s no irrigation water in Batanes.  Planting rice in Batanes is  a community activity, a cultural phenomenon.  But when the NFA began bringing milled rice to Batanes, this cultural event practically stopped.  Planting rice in Batanes is no longer a significant cultural event.  That part of the culture of the province is practically lost.  And this was really never systematically studied and documented before.  That’s very sad.


In the just-concluded UPLB-CA Flower and Garden Show (October 7-14) I saw something I’ve never seen before – a completely violet lettuce.  Yes, I’ve seen lettuce with some parts of the leaves violet, but this one is all violet.

By way, the UPLB Flower and Garden Show is always a good show for exciting new varieties of plants developed by our plant breeders.  If you missed this year’s show, do plan to attend in April, during the Flower and Garden Show in time for the UPLB Graduation Exercises.


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