The 1982 Agricultural Economics Circle Class Picture

In July 2020, while browsing my file that contains downloaded pictures posted by Facebook friends from college, I thought of writing a movie script about our 1982 group picture.   I was able to identify all the members of the UP Agricultural Economics Circle when it was first posted in 2009 while others could not recall anymore the names of some faces in the picture.  I realized that after almost four decades, the picture has already a distinct collective story to be shared with the UPLB community.

I prefer to consider the picture as a connection of students coming from different parts of the Philippines whose collective professional and life journey is worthy of attention today.  For me, it is special because I have been trying to establish a body of evidence in support of my development hypothesis that just a small sample size of  UP Agricultural Economics alumni can collectively craft the key for unlocking the mysterious logjam that causes the stagnation of our country’s agricultural and rural development momentum. I believe that the Agricultural Economics program we followed that honed us could be the most formidable anchor academic and research infrastructure for asserting UP’s more functional and practical role for the socio-economic development of the Philippines. However,  it is not the Agricultural Economics program’s technical contents, instead, the connection we established formally and informally, could really inspire and bind us to work together in line with national interests. For fear that we have only limited time to demonstrate our relevance because we will soon reach retirement age, at least the 1982 class picture can be a symbol of unity and diversity. On the other hand, the approaching period in our life could just be the start of a new era to be collectively relevant.

To start writing a story that pertains to the group picture, I have to recall first the names of those in the picture and the others who were not with us. To recall one by one the basic information from our college days until today, my days with the Department of Agriculture guide me because there were many instances I accidentally met college friends and familiar faces in such places as the DA lobby and places along  Visayas Avenue and  Quezon Memorial Circle. That was the time when there was no internet, cell phone, and social media yet.

After almost three days,  I was able to come up with a narrative report about the class picture and placed it on a Facebook group visited by UPLB alumni.  Then I posted it on the Agricultural Economics alumni Facebook group later on. Thanks to those who appreciated my memory, but my purpose of placing the picture with a corresponding narrative description was about something else. It seems my experiment of reminding the UPLB community of a class picture of happy college students who are now close to retirement age is catching up interest. Finally, there is a comment about my patience in chronicling every member, which is closer to the message  I desire to convey.  My objective is to put us all in one direction and assume a grand role in line with national development. This is the essence of “Putting UPLB Agricultural Economics First,” which is the title of my essay that was the featured article in the December 2006 UP Ag Econ Circle Grand Alumni Reunion.

Let me then provide the indicative direction of this undertaking that I wish to be called a storytelling project. Initially divided into eight chapters, I wish to receive contributions from fellow Ag Econ Circle alumni and peers to share their own life and professional experiences, research works and interest, and retirement pastime that will add to completing the whole story with objectives that are aligned with the solid goal of putting UPLB Agricultural Economics for national development. More important, this undertaking desires to show the importance of collective human wisdom in national development.

Chapter 1: “We  at (UPLB) Were Part of the Problem”

“Great Man Great Ideas” is the title of the article in the “No Free Lunch” opinion column of Dr. Cielito Habito for the March  9, 2021 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.   I consider this article timely in line with the recognition by one of the esteemed UPLB alumni; National Scientist, former Chancellor of UPLB, former Minister of Science, and former President of UP.  In his column, the former NEDA chief summarizes and highlights the speech delivered by  Dr. Emil Javier during the conferral of the Doctor of Laws honoris causa to the former UPLB ChancellorThe article excites me because  I have been waiting for over three decades that somebody, with the stature of Dr. Javier, would openly recognize that “we at UPLB were part of the problem” that confronts the country’s agricultural economy.

Dr. Habito narrates how he recognizes Dr. Javier’s point.  I presume it is not easy to accept the point because most of us have been used to believing, which started while inside the campus of UPLB, that we are the best in the country. However, the picture of the country’s agricultural economy, displayed by the rice and coconut sectors alone,  does not give us the reasons to rejoice about what the UPLB community has done for the country. The Philippines deserves more from us due to the reality that both institutional and aggregated accomplishments of the best among us,  including those of Dr. Javier and Dr. Habito,  are still inadequate relative to the bigger agricultural and rural development dimension we are supposed to contribute.

Thanks to an inefficient government bureaucracy, a  corrupt political system, the large business entrepreneurs that focus on the service and utility sectors that are predominantly opportunistic and the extraction of the natural resources of the country, and the fourth one only a few can recognize, which is the shallow practice of developmental journalism in the Philippines. These realities provide cover to the inadequacies of UPLB as a national university. Our perception of UPLB as the main pillar of agricultural development, I presume, is merely an optical illusion.

Do we really need to wait for somebody like Dr. Javier to wake up our own sensibility? Are we going to continuously praise ourselves to be the best in the Philippines in the field of agricultural development while there are no consequential signs of a modernized inclusive agriculture economy that we envision?  Are we going to continuously blame the graft and corruption practices in government as the main reasons why we have a very pathetic agricultural economy relative to what our neighbors in the Southeast Asian region have accomplished? If our common answer is in the negative, it is about time to cross-examine our own relevance and embrace the notion that “we at UPLB were part of the problem.”

With honest accountability,  we must divest the personal jewels we gained, which we believe we possess because of our hard work, and to some extent pure entitlement. Our pride in identifying ourselves with the distinct UPLB brand must have accountability too. The only way to impose our accountability is as a collective body, not as an aggregate of individual accomplishments. On this basis,  with humility, we must recognize and ultimately find solutions for addressing the inadequacies of the inclusive agricultural economy that we are supposed to serve.  In our high school Geometry, we were taught that in solving a geometric problem, we have to find the given first. Let us just accept that “we at UPLB were part of the problem” as the given,  as Dr. Javier himself has admitted.

Dr. Javier has spoken. It may be somehow late though. However, the time is now to work for reforming UPLB collectively because the country needs all of us.

Chapter 2: Build Strength on The Long Under-Valued Social Sciences

According to Dr. Habito, Dr. Javier identifies six areas of reform in addressing the “we at UPLB were part of the problem.” It appears that Dr.  Habito, who by training and experience is more technically equipped than Dr. Javier for a more holistic understanding of national development, begins only to see Dr. Javier’s point when the former UP President outlines areas of reform. “And this is where I began to see Doctor Javier’s point in saying that “we (at UPLB) were part of the problem.”  As he listed six areas of reform UPLB must pursue, his first item immediately resonated with me: UPLB must build strength in the long-undervalued social sciences — economics, sociology, psychology, and anthropology included — and their crucial application to agricultural policy and governance.  He recalled how the late great Dr. Gelia Castillo, National Scientist in Sociology, had once lamented that social scientists were “second-class citizens in a world-class university” that UPLB is — and he noted that they appear to remain so today.”

Dr. Habito continues with the other five areas of reform that Dr. Javier is advocating for. And I quote. “Doctor Javier also called on UPLB to (1) elaborate schemes to consolidate our small farm holdings into larger, more efficient, and viable operating units; (2) reorient focus from production to value chains, including farm export diversification; (3) enhance efforts in value-adding and food and beverage manufacturing; (4) manage the trade-offs between farm intensification and care of the environment, and (5) pursue new disruptive technologies, but biased to especially benefit small farmers.

Dr. Habito’s article further says,  “It is about time to recognize… that the greater challenges in our agriculture are not so much the agri part but the culture dimension…. In fact, the bigger and more problematic part of our challenges in agriculture had to do with governance and social conflict.” 

I totally agree with Dr. Habito’s statement with respect to what UPLB must accomplish in the immediate future. And I quote what he says.  “Until the country’s premier university becomes the vanguard in pursuing such change, outcomes in our most inclusive economic sector will continue to mirror its own sins of omission.”  

Apparently, everything that Dr. Javier is saying is inside the Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 or more popularly known as AFMA.

AFMA is not perfect though. The main reason it did not take off is not about the problem to fund the law, but the inadequate and inappropriate interpretation even by those people who wrote it.

If AFMA is a personal computer, it has hardware, which is the zoning of the country into Strategic Agricultural and Fisheries Development Zones with the support road, transport, and communication infrastructure within the zone and for regional and international connection purposes. It has an operating system, which is the DA reorganization and strategies on research and development, fund generation, cooperatives development, credit, extension, agricultural marketing and product standards, and infrastructure, which are clearly stipulated in the law. The software is the Model Farms for different industries that are going to be superimposed on the agricultural zones and compatible with the operating systems. However, it was not interpreted holistically because the IRR was written on a chapter by chapter basis without looking at the law as a whole first. I personally witnessed how it was immediately buried when no one was talking about the AFMA just maybe after a couple of months when the DA started the AFMA hype in June 1998. Then who are the people responsible why AFMA did not take off?

Perhaps the agricultural zoning of the country should have been completed first and incorporated in the law. The Department of Agriculture failed to immediately carry out the technical preparations for the AFMA because the zoning, which is the hardware, was not installed. It was a wrong interpretation within the DA. The task was delegated to the BSWM, which looked at zoning as a pure soil suitability study. Then the model farm, which is supposed to be a consolidated farm as a business model with economies of scale with its own operating systems that integrate technology, management, land consolidation, farmers cooperative, credit, and marketing and processing support, was interpreted as the PhilRice techno demo farm because these research trials are model farms. Maybe you will tell me that I am only exaggerating.

As early as 1998, I already saw that AFMA would just be buried. I left the government service in 2001 and after traveling to the US from May to September that year, after visiting the farms in Connecticut and New York, the research triangle in North Carolina, and the EPCOT Center in Orlando, Florida, I realized that we have the technical competence but we have only inadequacies in creativity and imagination. When I returned, I started to consolidate all my works starting with the alternative rice self-sufficiency agenda I prepared while with PhilRice. Then I completed the work in 2003 Modernizing Philippine Agriculture, Model Farms for Agriculture Modernization, and Model Agro-Industrial Infrastructure Systems. These works reflect my own interpretation of the AFMA.

There is one major flaw of AFMA that I myself did not recognize immediately. The role of UPLB is not well defined in the law. Furthermore, in interpreting AFMA as a computer model I outlined above, the importance of the undervalued social sciences can be recognized in the development of the operating systems for the country’s agricultural modernization program.

Chapter 3: Who is Going to Save the Inclusive Agriculture Economy from Drowning?

Before I further proceed with the article of Dr. Habito, I presume it is worth telling also that I  have at least two life experiences in common with the former NEDA chief. First, he started his elementary schooling and spent a year in the same elementary I attended in Munoz, Nueva Ecija, which is adjacent to the campus of the Central Luzon State University. His father taught briefly at the then Central Luzon Agricultural College before their family moved to Los Baños. Second, both of us studied at UPLB.

We had the same experience crossing a creek going to the elementary school. The bridge that I crossed connects the barangay to the national highway while he had to cross a footbridge, which is the one going to the CLSU campus.  A part of our initiation to the boys of the elementary school community is to swim after classes in the afternoon, and some boys are doing it during lunch break,  by going down the creek just right before or after crossing the wooden bridges. Against the advice of our teachers and with somehow consenting parents, we have to join the community of boys to be accepted while we also enjoy our simple childhood in a typical bare rural setting during those days. At least we have the early experience of a collective journey common in rural Philippines. What was perhaps unique in those days in our setting  was boys who are sons of faculty and staff members of the university study and play with sons of farmers together.

I learned during our elementary school grand reunion sometime in the mid-1990s when Dr. Habito was our invited guest speaker that swimming in the creek was one of his most memorable experiences while studying in the elementary school I attended because he nearly got drowned and saved by a classmate. I am telling this story because the inclusive agricultural economy of our country must be also saved from drowning. As Dr. Habito was saved by his classmate, so with the inclusive agricultural economy could be also saved collectively by the least expected former UP students like those in the 1982 class picture.

Chapter 4: Breaking  Down the Silos!

What  Dr. Javier enumerates is still prone to compartmentalized interpretation within UPLB. This proud but rigidly structured practice inside UPLB, which is being unintentionally exported to the country’s state university system, and to a great extent being practiced also inside government institutions like what I experienced inside the Department of Agriculture and PhilRice, cannot be addressed by creating interdisciplinary research and academic programs alone.  Our agricultural economy is in danger because no other community in the country is as accountable as our own UPLB. There must a grand scale undertaking with a heart and soul committed to mobilizing the required financial and technological resources for harnessing the most important capital of UPLB, its human and intellectual resources, including connection,  from within and from without the university.  Are we prepared for this great and grand challenge considering that we still rely on few great men for great ideas?

Remember also  that the agricultural development policy of our country is being shaped up by only a few academicians, bureaucrats,  and technocrats, and most of them should have long retired. On the other hand, the accomplished members of the younger generation comfortably immerse themselves to what this small elite group where Dr. Javier and Dr. Habito belong. Perhaps it is time for broader and collective participation by everybody, including the UPLB sector I belong to,  those who are not endowed with formal records of academic excellence and did not rise among the best in the normal way.

Chapter 5: The  1982 UP Agricultural Economics Circle Class Picture  as A Symbol of Diversity and Strength

In development planning, I was taught about the importance of symbolism.  I heard from my Professor that the Thatcher privatization in the UK is nothing but pure symbolism. While the UK conservative government abandoned privatization in basic utilities such as gas and electricity, still the Ramos government embraced privatization by selling the most profitable government corporations like Petron and PNB while retaining under government control those that are underperforming. I am not a fan of privatization, which to me, is entirely different from private sector participation.  However, I realized that if symbolism is applied positively, it can shape up development policy.

In 1998 while with PhilRice, without the consent of our Director, I took over the preparation of an alternative national rice self-sufficiency agenda.   I considered the non-formal education model of Paolo Freire, which relies on symbols, would be worthy of consideration. This education model would then be used as the community-based basic approach for creating a nationally organized system of rice farming in the Philippines. However, PhilRice was not ready to embrace the organized rice farming approach and the main reason I saw was the lack of diversity in thinking and experience within the organization. Until today, the rice sector agenda of the Philippines has no shape but the  symbol that I wanted to convey in the agenda I prepared is “rice self-sufficiency is a symbol of national pride.” If there is any institution that must be proud of being self-sufficient in rice, it is UPLB, which is claiming to be the father and principal sponsor for creating PhilRice in spite of IRRI.

Perhaps this picture taken 39 years ago is a collection of individual journeys that could symbolize diversity and collective strength. Based on this guiding principle, it is about time to tell our own story and build a synthesis for a national development model. Then brothers and sisters who started their own journeys before us and those who also traveled after us,  have their own stories to share. When put together, with harmony and strength, there is no collective journey in the entire UPLB that is more relevant than ours. However, with confidence, we have to assert our position, and perhaps our obligation.

We have lost many opportunities already in a period that spans about four decades since most of us in the picture left UPLB. I ask myself then how to translate this picture as a symbol for building the role of the  Agricultural Economics discipline,   one of the most underappreciated disciplines in agricultural and rural development in the Philippines.

Chapter 6: We Need To Embrace Historical Business Models

The impact of any great idea is not based on its technical merits alone.  The appropriateness for the time plays a significant role. What if Dr. Javier pursued holistic academic and research programs for purposes of transforming the fields of social science inside UPLB  to be the binding mechanism for university programs that focus on building business models with balanced economic, social, and environmental concerns?  What if for carrying out the university academic and research programs, as Chancellor of UPLB, and then as President of UP, he recruited, trained, and inspired young graduates that would become the stewards and future leaders for aligning the more active commitment and accountability of UPLB towards national agricultural and rural development? Dr. Javier’s leadership roles as an administrator in the academe, as Science Minister, and as an international agricultural research organization leader were useful in the crucial period for the transition of our agriculture economy that spans about half a century. Perhaps there would be Emil Javier Boys like the Rafael Salas Boys. Perhaps the hypothetical scenario  I am projecting would be a defining moment for the country’s agricultural development.

The transition period,  from the last ten years of Ferdinand Marcos to the enactment of the Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Act in 1997,  could be the most important period for the UPLB community to assert its national commitment.  It requires just basic study of the history of agricultural development in understanding this period but only a few devoted time to study this wasted transition. My Master of Science thesis was about the sustainability of foreign-funded projects in the Department of Agriculture, and it required me to look at the history of the Department of Agriculture.  From within the DA organization, I was able to understand its history. While looking for materials about agricultural development in the Philippines, I was able to find one in the library of Swansea University written by our very own Dr. Armando Dalisay, published by Harvard University Press. Dr. Dalisay was an Undersecretary in the old Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources when he published his work about agricultural and rural development in the Philippines. Drawing the strategy along functional lines, rather than the commodity focus program is the one I could remember from the book. Furthermore, as far as I could remember, the book does not recommend the breaking down of the old Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources into three separate line agencies.

There are human resource development models that could be worthy of consideration. These projects or undertakings include the Rafael Salas model, the UP-Cornell Project,   and the  ASSP model in the Department of Agriculture.  There is one model that I was also assigned to study, the development board model established by Evelio Javier in Antique, which just remained in its infancy.

Furthermore, why is it that Dr. Javier, who was a product of the UP-Cornell Project,  did not endeavor to revive the project and expand it to more inclusive institutionalized collaboration, not only with Cornell, but with more universities in the US, Europe, and Asia? Funding should not be a problem.  I am not accepting this reason because I understand there are opportunities. There are many ways to generate the needed funding by harnessing and eventually pooling together available resources and building connections that will ensure more sustainable funding opportunities. I presume there was institutional collaboration too during Dr. Javier’s stint as UPLB chancellor and President of the UP System, but it could be inadequate.

The four models I mentioned glaringly differ on the types of people to be trained. In the Rafael Salas Model, the former Marcos Executive Secretary brought to Malacanãng leaders from different universities and assigned them to different line agencies. The focus was on cultivating leaders, less focus on the academically brilliant students to be given the opportunity to serve and gain exposure at an early age.

In the UP-Cornell Model, which is a US foreign assistance project for the rehabilitation of the then UP College of Agriculture after the Second World War, the human resources capacity building component, together with the establishment of the Central Experiment Station and the building of academic and research infrastructure, it was the training of the faculty of the UP College of Agriculture for graduate studies at Cornell University and other universities in the US and the posting of Cornell faculty to Los Baños. The ASSP model designed by Dr. Edgardo Quisumbing was more inclusive as it trained frontline researchers both in the Department of Agriculture and the academe through foreign graduate studies, and most of them were alumni also of the university. The Antique Upland Development Project (AUDP) in Antique focused on local capability building by the establishment of a development board. It could have been one of the earliest models of public-private partnership, but the composition of the board became predominantly government institutions. Nonetheless, AUDP served as the breeding ground for future local leaders in the province attracted by the visionary and charismatic leadership of Evelio Javier.

On the other hand, what if Dr. Habito, as NEDA Secretary General announced a bold policy framework for an organized system of agriculture that focuses on the value chain, export diversification, and appropriate technologies for smallholder agriculture in the context of addressing the more challenging governance and social conflict dimensions in the inclusive agriculture economy of the Philippines.

Apparently, all the areas of reform are inside the Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997. Did UPLB actively participate in the crafting of the law as well as in formulating the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR)of AFMA. If AFMA will be activated, it must be amended,   and the most significant and consequential amendment to the law is inserting the role of UPLB in two particular areas that we failed. First is the zoning of the country into agricultural development zones and the development of business models or model farms that are going to be superimposed on the agricultural zones. Most of us, even those academicians in our college, are unaware of why the  AFMA did not take off  because the media reporting the developments in the Department of Agriculture have only shallow coverage of AFMA.

Certainly, if what Dr. Javier and Dr. Habito are telling today were carried out two decades ago, perhaps we have a different shape of the Philippine agriculture economy. It is not the physical and technical infrastructure that are more important, but the human resources and organizational infrastructure that would ensure equal opportunities for all of us to participate in a  level playing field.

However,  Dr. Javier and Dr. Habito did face also a very  hardened government and academic bureaucracy that was really difficult to navigate. I presume these are the reasons why they did not recognize the “we at UPLB were part of the problem.”  Nonetheless, UPLB must build business models by banking on the diversity of our own UPLB community.

 In the context of diversity that is needed for agricultural development, we at the UP Agricultural Economics program certainly can contribute. However, we need to work on the assumption that “we at UPLB were part of the problem” is already a given because spending time debating on this problem is already a lost cause.

Chapter 7: The First Step : Putting UPLB Agricultural Economics First in Line With Building Strength on The Undervalued Social Sciences

We should not be relying only on few individuals to align the role of UPLB with the broader national agricultural and rural development dimension. What we need is a program that can be the catalyst and provide the leadership role. For instance, there is something flawed in asking every candidate for the chancellorship of UPLB  for his or her  vision. The vision of the university must be a collective long-term vision by the entire UPLB community from within and without the university campus. Our over-dependency on few leaders is part of the problem that we cannot recognize until today. Therefore, we have to address this concern, and collectively,  we must build sustainable business models and transform the UPLB community as one of the main pillars of the country’s agricultural and rural development drive.

In his book “Rural Development: Putting the Last First” Dr. Robert Chambers of the Institute of Development Studies in the University of Sussex in the U.K. identifies two academic areas that are underappreciated in development planning and management. These fields are Agricultural Economics and Geography. It is along with this unrecognized importance of the Agricultural Economics discipline that I believe the Agricultural Economics programs of UPLB must assume the lead role in aligning UPLB to the national agricultural modernization program of the country.

In my work Business Models for Collective Governance, Chapter 31 of the work transforms the Agricultural Economics studies in the University of the Philippines Los Baños as the cutting-edge research and academic program that unites all the academic and research programs of the university into a national undertaking for agricultural and rural development. I presume this is in line with the first area of reform that Dr. Javier recommends.

“The chapter discusses the idea of contributing towards updating the UP Agricultural Economics academic and research programs in the context of the present national and international development interests was first articulated. The experiences and the accomplishments of the alumni in the real world of government service, business, national and international development, and in the academe inspired the group to propose serious updating initiatives. I volunteered to write a paper that would perhaps shed light on the position of the alumni to further solidify Agricultural Economics education and research at the University of the Philippines. This paper, however, is not comprehensive nor prepared in compliance with the traditional academic presentation. Its main aim is to initiate awareness on the importance of the field of Agricultural Economics in national development.”

I also foresee the need for a grand experiment that everybody in the UPLB community will be able to participate in, but the experiment will be under our leadership. The grand experiment provides the framework for project planning, implementation, and monitoring in the operationalization of the business models. The operational framework for the integration of the business models into the inclusive development enterprise is built and maintained through continuous business model preparation, testing, and verification. In the experimental design, every business model undergoes testing and verification across different geographic locations. The Philippine archipelago collectively resembles an experimental field. Action research is employed, and it is combined with the application of statistical tools and other traditional and innovative research tools for continuous experimentation both on the technological and policy levels.

Of course, there are more modifications to be done in the grand experiment but this is an approach that relies on UPLB’s strength, our research and development orientation.

Chapter 8: The Pensionados as a Class Picture Model for Putting UPLB Agricultural Economics First

In the street renaming project inside the UPLB Campus, the short stretch from the Animal Science entrance to the Baker Hall is named after Mariano Mondoñedo. I presume only a few within the UPLB community are aware that Mariano Mondoñedo  belongs to the first group of Pensionados or Philippine Government scholars sent to  America in 1903.

The Philippine Commission Act No. 854 of August 1903 authorizes the sending of Filipino students to the United States for four years study in American colleges and universities. Out of more than 20,000 applicants,  the  US Colonial Government in the Philippines selected 104 applicants. Within just over two months upon the signing of Act 854, the first group of boys left the Port of Manila on October 8, 1903 in a festive ceremony with free San Miguel Beer. Alexander Sutherland, the Spanish Secretary to Governor General William Taft, together with his wife Minnie Newberry, accompanied the students. They arrived in the Port of San Francisco on October 8, 1903.

The first stage of the Pensionados program lasted only over a decade from 1903 to 1914. Just more than 200  scholars were sent.  The program would be revived  later in the late 1910’s until the mid 1920’s but mostly for graduate studies.

Mariano Mondoñedo, the only selected candidate from the Province of Isabela, studied Animal Husbandry at the  Agricultural College in Ames, Iowa, which is now the Iowa State University. He returned to the Philippines and was the first Filipino Superintendent of the Indang Farm School in Cavite, which is now the Cavite State University. He moved to the UP College of Agriculture and served as Professor in Animal Husbandry.

The Pensionados sent to the US during the period the program was revived are familiar to us from UPLB. National scientists Francisco Fronda and Julian Banzon belong to this group of Pensionados. Inside the Diiman campus, there are buildings named after Enrique Virata and Vidal Tan.

Other members of the 1903 batch who have known contributions to agricultural development include  Silverio Apostol, who studied Agriculture at Purdue. He    pioneered  rice breeding. Apostol served as Secretary of Agriculture during the time of Manuel Quezon.  Mariano Manas Cruz, the first Filipino Director of the Bureau of Plant Industry, also went to the Agricultural College in Ames, Iowa. Emilio Quisumbing, was also with the 1903 batch, studied Civil Engineering at Cornell University,  and he is considered to be the father of irrigation development in the Philippines. In the veterinary medicine field, Teodulo Topacio and Victor Buencamino are familiar names.

Aside from Mariano Mondoñedo and other Pensionados I mentioned who have a connection with UPLB and agricultural development in the Philippines, there are other Pensionados that worthy of remembrance and recognition.

Jose Abad Santos, Conrado Benitez, Camilo Osias, Tomas Mapua, Vicente Lim, are just popular names because there are streets, buildings, and institutions named after them. In the University of the Philippines, aside from Mariano Mondoñedo with a street named after him, Teodulo Topacio and Victor Buencamino in the College of Veterinary Medicine are popular names. From the second generation Pensionados, Vital Tan, Enrique Virata, and Francisco Fronda are names we could remember because there are buildings and halls named after them.

At least I have personally verified three of the members of the 1903 batch. Dr. Edgardo Quisumbing and Rey Quisumbing confirmed that Emilio Quisumbing was their grandfather. From my hometown of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, Marceliano Hidalgo, originally from Pangasinan, was the great great grandfather of Lisa Hidalgo Bordey, now PhilRice’s Deputy Director.  Lately, Eduardo Mondoñedo, based in Maryland, wrote to me confirming that Mariano Mondonedo was his grandfather. Eduardo’s father was Jose Mondoñedo, who studied at the UP College of Agriculture and for 60 years worked in different countries as a university professor and consultant fluent both in English and Spanish.

The rich Pensionados heritage convinced me to name the Philippine Studies Center that we started to plan to be established in the US as early as 2008. The center would engage in research and international training for global development by initially focusing on the development of the Philippines but its long-term goal is to get involved in international development. The services that the center will provide include international development consulting and training services, technology transfer, and hotel facilities. The center heavily relies on the research and academic resources of Cornell University but still explores collaboration with the other universities in the U.S.

The center will be a venue for institutions and individual scholars and professionals to be actively involved in research works, academic advancement, professional enrichment, and volunteering work. In effect, the center serves as a place where Filipinos and other immigrants are able to participate in the development of their mother countries.

The initial projects of the center immediately create opportunities for research and training. The first in the list of the initial projects is the revival of the Pensionados through literature, art, music, and film. The second one is the revival of another historical project, which is the University of the Philippines Cornell Project. The third project focuses on strengthening the capabilities of local government units in the Philippines for fund generation. The fourth project is an open fellowship for science and technology projects. Finally, the fifth project is the exploration of the franchise of the Cornell Dairy Bar for integrated creamery and dairy bar operations in Southeast Asia.

Finally, the Pensionados class pictures in Sta. Barbara, California and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri inspire me to work on the development of business models for young boys who would later contribute to national development in various fields. While there are also many different classes from UPLB that can demonstrate a picture of unity and diversity, the Agricultural Economics students and alumni can trigger the class picture model.



I  am posting this class picture of the members of the UP Ag Econ Circle taken in early 1982 or about 38 years ago. I was able to identify everyone in the picture when it was first posted in 2009. I wish to apologize for the information that I miss.

Fourth row, standing: Leilani Casin ( St. Theresa’s College Manila, member of the UPLB Filipiniana, first joined the Consul Farms in San Miguel, Bulacan, and now in the field of education); Cynthia Lopez (Masbate High School, from Mandaon, Masbate; joined the faculty of what is now Don. Emilio Espinosa University in Mandaon, Masbate); Jennifer Carta (UP Rural, finished Ag Econ in three and a half years, migrated to Canada right after she graduated); Anneli Alba (from Naga City, joined NEDA, a fellow British Chevening Scholar); Mildred Longakit (St. Scholastica Marikina, went back to UPLB to pursue graduate studies at the UPLB College of Public Affairs); Claire Caoili (from La Union, I was informed she joined a Catholic religious order); Lori Villabrosa (no information about her); Marianita Caban (from Quezon Province, no information about her); Carina Pisigan (UP Rural, from Calamba, Laguna, joined DTI); Wilma Castro (from Alaminos, Laguna, no information about her); Edith Landicho (from Alaminos, Laguna, currently a senior staff working in the field of international education at SEAMEO inside UP Diliman Campus); Maritoni Matibag (Laguna Colleges, from San Pablo City; now Professor at De La Salle University in Cavite); Professor Elpidio Agbisit (Adviser; from Cagayan Province, postgraduate education from Kansas State University, RIP); Melvin Carlos (UP Rural, UP Vanguard, Joined PCARRD, now Deputy Director, with PhD degree from UPLB).

Third Row, Standing: Gerardo Tioseco (Ateneo de Manila High School, Head Circle, joined Benguet Management Corporation, then Senate of the Philippines, Cojuangco Group, now living in Sydney, Australia); Fideliz Bulala (Member UPLB Filipiniana, Manila Science High School, joined NFA, TLRC, now a consultant, earned a Master of Science degree from the UP School of Industrial and Labor Relations); Teresita Aligui (from Calamba, Laguna now living in Vancouver, Canada); Liberty San Andres (from Naga City, joined NEDA); Teresita Manuel (from Iloilo, no information about her); Doreen Carla Encarnacion (from San Jose Antique; Cumlaude, joined NEDA, with postgraduate degree from the UP School of Economics, now a consultant and a world traveler); Rosario Cabal (from Botolan, Zambales; joined the NAFC in the Department of Agriculture, CIDA in the Canadian Embassy in Manila, then Esso Canada in Toronto, now living in Alberta, Canada); Mary Anne Pantua (from Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, joined the NFA and DAR); Maravel Manansala (from Lucban, Quezon, Lucban National Agricultural College now Southern Luzon Polytechnic University, connected with Paz Y Desarrollo); Aileen Dorotea Pe (Davao City High School, from Davao City, Cumlaude with GPA close to Magna Cum laude; PhD, UP School of Economics); Laarni Gutierrez (from Binakayan, Kawit, Cavite, joined the Central Bank of the Philippines, went back to UPLB to take up preparatory course requirements for admission to School of Medicine, studied Medicine at UERM, joined the Makati Medical Center, a pediatrician); Deo Hermoso (La Salle Lipa, from Lipa City, member of the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity, joined NFA, now in Silang, Cavite)

Second Row, Sitting: Eleonore Albay (member of the UPLB Filipiniana, Last time I met her at the old Domestic Airport in 1985 as we were in the same flight to Iloilo City with her husband Wendell Garcia for his Shell Chemicals assignment); Teresita Domingo (joined the Bureau of Agricultural Economics now Bureau of Agricultural Statistics then Dep Ed); Digna Orduña (from UP Rural, joined PCARRD and IRRI); Carmencita Cavero (Laguna Colleges, from San Pablo City, still connected with the National Agricultural and Fisheries Council, Department of Agriculture, earned postgraduate degree from Ateneo de Manila University); Stella Marie Cutay (Canossa San Pablo, joined the College of Engineering Mechanization Project, now at LB); Christie Sevilla (Laguna Colleges, from San Pablo City; joined the Planning Division of the Department of Agriculture; then DAR; now in Troy, Michigan, USA); Lorna Gonzalez (St. Bridget Batangas City, from Batangas City, joined DAR, RIP); Narlyn Angeles (Laguna Colleges, from San Pablo City, had successful career in commercial banking, RIP); Rebecca Alfonso (St. Paul College Quezon City, now in her hometown San Mateo, Rizal); Maris Cometa (St. Paul College Quezon City, from Catarman, Northern Samar, now in Norway connected with Statistics Norway).

Front Row, Sitting: Genaro De Leon (from Makati, joined Shell Chemicals, no other information about him); Eriberto Taban-ud Jr. (from Surigao City, I learned through Facebook that he is at DTI Bukidnon); Chat Rocafort (Ateneo de San Pablo, from Nagcarlan, Laguna, now in Nagcarlan joined Boehringer); Charlie Cabildo ( St. John Academy Calamba, from Calamba, Laguna, member of Gamma Sigma Fraternity, Best Thesis Award recipient of the Ag Econ Class of 1983, joined the Bohol Integrated Area Development Project under NACIAD, an agency under the Office of the Prime Minister, then Land Bank, RIP); Eduardo Bacolod (CLSU Science High School, from Muñoz Nueva Ecija, joined the Program Planning Division of NACIAD under the Office of the Prime Minister; then Special Concerns Office, Department of Agriculture; went home to Muñoz, Nueva Ecija to join PhilRice, British Chevening Scholar, now in New York City); Noli Elauria (Laguna Institute, from Calamba, Laguna; member Gamma Sigma Fraternity, now in Temecula, California in the microchip designing profession); Gerald Villapando (UP Integrated School Diliman, joined the Ministry of Human Settlement; managed family owned travel agency business, managed a hotel, now active in the affairs of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines); Ahmed Toledo ( Ateneo de Manila and FEU; joined the journalism profession through the ABS-CBN; became a radio broadcaster; assigned in Bangkok as a journalist; spokesman for the Presidential Campaign of General Renato De Villa, RIP); Joseph Lawrence Aguilar (from Lourdes School Mandaluyong; member UP Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity, now in Alberta, Canada); Wendell Garcia (from Gubat, Sorsogon, joined Shell Chemicals, CEO of Altacrop, a crop protection company )

Members not in the picture:Abigail Reposo (Silliman University High School, from Dumaguete City, Sigma Beta Sorority, joined DTI);Hermenigildo Du (Laguna Institute, Calamba, Laguna, joined Pepsi Cola); Roberta Caridad Valmonte (UP Rural, joined IRRI, with postgraduate studies at UPLB and postgraduate studies in Europe); Andre Cutay (Ateneo de San Pablo, joined DTI, RIP); Marissa Castro (from Candon Ilocos Sur, now in Portland, Oregon); Evangeline Jagunap (from Leganes, Iloilo; joined the NAFC in the Department of Agriculture, no information about her after she left NAFC); Manuelito Manuel (from Pangasinan, teaching at the Pangasinan State University in Sta Maria, Pangsinan); Maria Menchie De Mesa (from Batangas, no information about her); Bienvenido Balana (from Guinobatan, Albay, a frequent visitor when I was at the DA, visited his Bicolano restaurant at Maginahawa St., UP Village); Maria Isabel Torralba (Davao City High School, from Davao City, joined the NFA, no additional information about her); Perlie Cunanan (from Fernando Air Base LIpa City, member of the Alpha Phi Omega Service Sorority, not sure if she joined NFA)

Other Members Who Joined the Organization Later:Maria Lourdes Macaisa (from Tanauan, Batangas; Cumlaude, joined NEDA, the UN, now in Canada); Susan Macansantos (from Zamboanga City, joined PCA, went back to UPLB for graduate studies); Nelly Ignacio (from Puerto Princesa City, now in Puerto Princesa); Ferdinand Cruz (no information about him); Nathan Montenegro ( from Batangas, joined the Central Bank, I heard he is now a Pastor); Malou Perez (from Naga City, now in Vancouver, Canada); Anna Elizabeth Cañeja (from San Pedro, Laguna; joined the DA-RRDP Project, no information about her after she left DA); Eva Olalia (from Port Bonifacio, Makati, no information about her).


Provinces Represented: Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Quezon, Batangas, Mindoro Oriental, Palawan, Camarines Sur, Sorosogon, Albay, Masbate, Iloilo, Antique, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Davao City, Zamboanga City, Surigao City.

Government Agencies Joined:NEDA, Department of Agriculture, DTI, Senate of the Philippines, Central Bank, DepEd, NFA, NAFC, TLRC, PhilRice, PCA, DAR, PCARRD, Land Bank

Educational Institutions Joined:Pangasinan State University, Don Emilio Espinosa University in Masbate, De La Salle Cavite

International Organizations:IRRI, SEAMEO, CIDA, UN

Private Sector Organizations:ABS-CBN, Benguet Management, Consul Farms, Cojuangco Group, Shell Chemicals, Boehringer, ESSO Canada, Pepsi Cola

International Scholarships: British Chevening Award


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