UPLB welcomes freshies at opening convocation

20 September 2022 | Kyle Ramiel F. Dalangin and Kristel Hope T. Villafuerte |

The Academic Year 2022-2023 has officially begun with UPLB welcoming the freshies at the Opening Convocation held at the Copeland Gym on Sept. 5.

The program, which had for its theme “Gilas at Tikas: Tugon at Tindig ng Bagong Iskolar ng Bayan sa Hamon ng Kasaysayan, Pandemya, at Pagbabagong Panlipunan,” was spearheaded by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

It was the first in-person freshie convocation program to be held in UPLB since 2019 after the series of lockdowns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her welcoming remarks, Dr. Janette H. Malata-Silva, vice chancellor for student affairs, assured the freshies that their OVCSA family is here for them in their journey as students.

Malata-Silva gave a rundown of the activities for the day, including the campus tour of the students who entered UPLB as freshies in 2020 and 2021, the Freshie Fair, and the Freshie Night.

University Registrar Margarita Carmen S. Paterno presented the various administration officials to the freshies, after which Malata-Silva introduced the heads of the OVCSA units. 

An audiovisual presentation was also shown on the OVCSA and its services on scholarships and financial assistance, psychosocial and emotional support, student organizations and activities, student discipline, and international student affairs.

In an inspirational speech given to the freshies, Chancellor Jose V. Camacho, Jr. said that UP education is about ensuring that students are equipped with the proper knowledge, skills, and values needed to pursue their dreams and contribute to the betterment of communities and the country.

He enumerated the traits that UPLB aims to nurture in the students: flexibility, adaptability, resilience, compassion, cooperation, and vigilance. “These same traits are what we hope to teah you alongside the values of honor, excellence, critical thinking, and public service,” Camacho said.

Distinguished guest speakers

Two distinguished guest speakers graced the convocation program. The first one was Atty. Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno who delivered a recorded message to the students.

Diokno expressed his excitement at the opportunity to speak before the freshies. He said that he sees the country’s future in the students’ hearts and that they are the key to a humane and just Philippines. He identified fake news and historical revisionism as among the country’s most significant challenges today.

“Kasama sa radikal na pagmamahal ang pagcall-out sa mga nagkakalat ng kasinungalingan at pagpush back by speaking truth to power,” Diokno reminded the people in the audience.

Another renowned guest speaker was Dr. Elmer Jose A. Meceda, a fellow of the Academy of Filipino Neurosurgeons who finished his BS in Zoology in UPLB.

Meceda shared with the audience how he successfully performed the first-ever minimally invasive spinal cord surgery and his experiences as a student leader and activist in UPLB.

“If presented with a limitation, and all available options are not applicable, think outside the box,” Meceda said.

He advised the students to learn to believe in teamwork, respect people’s will and informed consent, be honest about their abilities and limitations, empower them by letting them participate in the problem-solving process, and establish long-lasting relationships with peers.

He said that he believes that education is a right of every citizen, along with academic freedom. To him, education should be critical, liberating, and transformative toward social conscience, social responsibility, and social change.

“Wag kayong papayag na mawala ang academic freedom sa mga institutions of higher learning,” he enjoined the students.

Meceda also said that he brought activism and critical thinking to medical school to fight for the rights of various sectors. There, he realized that health workers, students, urban poor, farmers, fishermen, and the whole country all have the same things they stand for. He also tackled the challenges faced by the health sector, including lack of budget, corruption, and the red-tagging of health workers.

Meceda concluded his speech by challenging the students to stay critical and to intervene in societal issues, study well, open their eyes and mind, study history and use it as a guide for the future.

“Ipakita ang gilas at tikas sa pagtndig sa panawagan ng bawat sektor ng sambayanan. Mag-organisa at kumilos.”

Top freshies and video contest winner

After the performances of Wyre Underground of UPLB, UPLB Choral Ensemble, and Harmonya: String Ensemble of UPLB, the 2022 Top 10 Freshies were recognized. These are the students who attained the highest scores in the UP College Applications (UPCA), namely: Anthony Franklin R. Paunlagui, BS Agricultural Chemistry; Elced G. Panisales, BS Biology; Cloude Resha Faustine S. Nierras, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine; Keona G. Aranguren, BS Nutrition; Dylan Ross L. Espino, BS Computer Science; Andrei Nikolai Y. Tiongson, BS Biology; Shantell Valerie L. Go, BS Agricultural Biotechnology; John Zarem D. Espina, BS Chemical Engineering; Rsean Patrick N. Gueco, BS Computer Science; and Jonathan L. Sacop, BS Civil Engineering.

William Gem S. Buenaseda, BA Sociology, was chosen as the winner in the video contest wherein freshies were asked to respond to the question “what do you think is the role of the youth in combating challenges brought about by historical distortion, the pandemic, and sociopolitical changes as a whole?”

In his video entry, Buenaseda talked about youth and their contribution to the community. He said that they should be critical and progressive, especially today. He tackled historical distortion and fake news, saying that the most important way for the youth to help is not to forget.

“Wag na wag mong lilimutin ang mga kwento ng mga pinatahimik, pinahirapan, at pinatay ng mapagmalupit at mapagalipustang estado,” he said referring to the people who died during the Martial Law and War on Drugs campaign.

Dr. Jean Loyola, vice chancellor for academic affairs, gave the closing remarks. She reminded the students of the responsibilities of being Iskolar ng Bayan. “Apart from attending classes, attending webinars and discussions to know what is happening in society is also a good thing to do,” she added.

“At UPLB and UP, we do things guided by honor and excellence. Find time to know better what it means and live by these values,” Loyola said as she ended the program.

p>The 2022 Opening Convocation may be viewed at the official UPLB Facebook page.