Thursday, May 9, 2013

Trivia Updates From UPOU

Hanceana Palms at UPOU Oblation Park

On the small 20 hectare campus near the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), along the National Highway cutting through the boundary of Los Baños and Bay in Laguna, stand the UPOU Headquarters (Los Baños, Laguna).  Within the UPOU Oblation Park, between the UPOU Administration Bldg. and the National Highway, are 28 fully grown hanceana palms, scientifically called Phoenix loureirii var. hanceana, a palm endogenous to Batanes.  In Batanes, this palm is called voyavoy, which the Ivatans use to make the Ivatan headgear called suot, used by women as protection against the sun and the rain. 

These voyavoy plants were grown from seeds that I pocketed when I was in Itbayat as Graduation Speaker in the agricultural high school there in 2004.  I recall that, while waiting at the airfield in Itbayat for the aircraft from Basco to pick us up, I felt a little hungry and looked around for voyavoy that had ripen fruits.  The fruit of voyavoy is green when young, orange when matured, and black-purple when ripened.   I spotted nearby one that had plenty of ripened fruits.  Eating some of the fruit, I also pocketed many ripened fruits.  In Los Baños, I dutifully germinated them and l;et them be for about a couple of years.   I donated all the seedlings to the UPOU (I was still UPOU Chancellor, then).  Today, There are 28 plants, of fruiting age, around the UPOU Oblation Park.  Strangely, those plants at the UPOU Oblation Park do not bear the right fruit that is edible.

Normally, the edible voyavoy fruit is single-seeded.  Of the 28, only one has this characteristic.   The rest have two-seeded fruits, which do not mature, much less ripen; they just dry up.  But the plants at the UPOU Oblation Park are healthy.

Those who wish to see a real voyavoy or hanceana palm are welcome to visit the UPOU Oblation Park where grown-up palms may be inspected and enjoyed.   The Oblation Park, by the way, is ideal for photo-ops.  You’ll never see a more beautiful UP Oblation compared to the UPOU Oblation, standing majestically at the center of a four-hectare open space along the National Highway between Los Baños and Bay in Laguna, with a legendary mountain range comprised of Mt. Makiling and Mt. Banahaw and the small mountains between them as panoramic background.

Recycled Ceramics for Park Benches

While talking about the UPOU, you’ll find some interesting pieces of work behind the Administration Building.  This is part of the “greening of UPOU.”  What may be found at the back of the building is a landscaped area planted to different ornamental palms and flowering trees.   Under these palms and trees are concrete benches with very interesting posts or stands or legs, which are ceramics that used to be toilet bowls and urinals.  Printed grey, they look like concrete that match the benches.  They actually look beautiful.  Come to think of it: the UPOU has recycled all the toilet bowls and urinals that were replaced.

Come around and see for yourselves.  You might learn a thing or two from the UPOU. 

These are discarded urinals, in case you are unable to decipher what they are.

 LED Tubes Now Light UPOU Offices and Hallways

The UPOU has also installed new light fixtures.  The old ones were large tandems of fluorescent tubes (40 watts each).  What were installed were fixtures with only single, thinner LED tubes rated 28 watts each, naturally consuming much less electricity.  They’re brighter, too.  Heard this is a project of the Department of Energy, and we got it free.  Well, they’re doing something right there.

The light fixture inside UPOU Library was changed.  Ity is now brighter inside, but the lamps consume less energy.  UPOU could save on electrical expenses, and such savings are expected to be huge amounts.

They'll be changing the light fixtures in my office shortly.  I have been informed.

DComm Orientation Program

16-17 May are the dates for the Orientation Program of the Doctor of Communication Program.  This year, the DComm Program admitted 28 new students.  Previously admitted applicants number 57, so right now the total number of admitted applicants to the Doctor of Communication Program at UPOU stands at 85.  For a four-year old program, 85 seems like a large student population, which it is considering that this is a doctorate program.

We expect to be able to graduate three or four this year, which means we shall have our first DComm graduates join UPOU Graduation Ceremonies in May 2014.  Let’s just cross our fingers on this. 

Entrants to the DComm Program keep on increasing.  There’s also an increasing number of inquiries from foreigners.  We do have on-going DComm students who are foreign nationals.


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