University of the Philippines Los Baños


Dr. Arsenio M. Balisacan, chairman of the Philippine Competition Commission and a renowned economist and expert on poverty, recognized the role of graduate degree holders in national development during his keynote address at the Graduate School (GS) Hooding Ceremony and Recognition Program on June 23 at the DL Umali Freedom Park.

Dr. Balisacan, former secretary of socio-economic planning and director-general of the National Economic Development Authority, was the program’s guest of honor and speaker. During the occasion that was held one day before they were conferred their degrees, the 323 students who finished their graduate studies were recognized. Sixty-one of them were Doctor of Philosophy students on whom their respective faculty-thesis advisers placed the doctoral hood, symbolizing their success in completing their doctoral program.

“Our higher education gives us greater capacity and more competence to contribute significantly to the perpetual task of nation building,” Dr. Balisacan said. “Your acquired higher degrees have already set you apart from your colleagues and counterparts. You are at the premium position to affect change and direct the sail of your organizations, communities, and the country.”

Dr. Balisacan also reminded them of the contribution of the Filipino people towards subsidizing the students’ UP education, and urged them to give back to their countrymen. “Let us use our advanced knowledge and skills not only for advancing our position in the social ladder, but also for improving the welfare of those who toiled day and night to pay for our education,” he said.

“We owe our degrees to the Filipino people, even to the poorest of the society, because the money and valuable resources spent for you is money that could have been spent for their basic education, services, and housing, and even for much needed infrastructure, particularly in the rural areas,” he added. Dr. Balisacan is also a UPLB alumnus, having earned his MS Agricultural Economics from the University in 1982 before pursuing PhD Economics at the University of Hawaii.

Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., in his opening remarks, also encouraged the graduating students to use their knowledge for greater social purposes. “We encourage you to use your knowledge not only in pursuing further academic and intellectual endeavors, but also in addressing social concerns,” he said.

Chancellor Sanchez led in the awarding of certificates and the placing of hoods on the graduating students, together with Dr. Ma. Cynthia Rose B. Bautista, UP vice president for academic affairs. Assisting them were Dr. Myrna G. Carandang, university registrar, Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr. and Dr. Mark Dondi M. Arboleda, dean and college secretary of GS, respectively, and the deans and advisers of the students.

The top graduating students were also recognized during the program. Michael Vincent O. Laurio, MS Chemical Engineering, and Rowena R. Sazon, PhD Environmental Science, were named as academic excellence awardees for garnering the highest General Weighted Average at the master’s and doctorate levels, respectively.

In their speeches, Laurio described their caps and gowns as a symbol of their commitment to serve the country, while Sazon articulated that UP’s motto of “honor and excellence” is an emblem that they will bring along in their professions.

Present during the program were UP regents, namely: Faculty Regent Patricia Arinto; Staff Regent Alexis Mejia; and Regent Francis Laurel. UPLB officials also graced the ceremony. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)