University of the Philippines Los Baños

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Mas gusto ko po na tawagin ninyo akong ‘Danicon’ (I prefer to be called ‘Danicon’),” said President Danilo L. Concepcion to the UPLB community at the welcome program tendered in his honor by the University on March 10 at DL Umali Hall. This puts an end to questions asking how he would like his constituents to call him.

Wala po sa akin ang titulo na itatawag ninyo sa akin. Mas mahalaga po sa akin na ako ay ituturing ninyong kaibigan at kasama. Kapag tinawag po ninyo akong ‘Danicon,’ ang ibig sabihin po niyan, tinuturing ninyo akong kaibigan (Titles do not matter to me. What matters to me is that you will consider me as a friend and a colleague. Therefore, if you call me ‘Danicon,’ it means that you consider me as your friend),he said.

Faculty development, quality students, contractual employees

In his first message to UPLB as UP’s chief executive, President Concepcion recognized the importance of providing an enabling environment to its faculty members, whom he believes to be one of the pillars of the University. “Let us give them an environment that will allow them to grow, that will make them happy with what they are doing, and that will give them time to write, to research, and to be productive,” President Concepcion said.

He said that he will strive to expand the University’s resources to support faculty members’ advanced studies, not only in Philippine universities but also abroad. He said that their new learnings would be crucial not only to their profession and to the University, but to the nation as well.

President Concepcion also articulated the importance of maintaining UP’s high admission standards, but at the same time giving equal opportunities for everyone to be admitted to the University. “We will not lower the quality of education simply because we want to target a particular sector of our society. We have to keep the quality of our education in the University, and therefore we have to keep the quality of students that we are molding to be useful for the country,” he said.

He bared his plan of having new graduates who received free education from UP to teach at provincial high schools for one year with pay. “We have to improve the quality of instruction in the public schools in the provinces, upang tumaas ang tyansa ng mga estudyante nito na makapasa sa UPCAT (to increase the students’ chances of passing the UPCAT),” President Concepcion said. UPCAT refers to the highly competitive UP College Admission Test.

President Concepcion also noted the need to address labor policies, particularly on its contractual employees. After recognizing the latter’s contributions to the University, which he said are comparable to regular employees, he said that he will fight for them to secure item positions during his term.

Moved by UPLB’s welcome

Musical performances from UPLB’s performing artists and chorale groups, both made up of students and teachers, marked the welcome program for President Concepcion. Some of the original Filipino songs rendered were President Concepcion’s own favorite, such as “Sinasamba, minamahal,” “Kahit magtiis,” “Forevermore,” and “You.”

UPLB performers also did a Batangas ritual called “Puttungan” as a way to honor and welcome President Concepcion. They danced while hoisting palm leaves and then placed a sampaguita garland around President Concepcion’s neck.

President Concepcion was also treated to audio-visual presentations showing testimonials about him by his family and chief of staff, well-wishes from UPLB’s sectoral representatives, one entitled Boses ng mga Kaagapay (Voices of Partners) that had sectoral representatives express their hopes under the new UP president’s term, and on public service and compassion in UPLB through its public service programs.

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“Hindi ko po inakala na ganito pala kainit tumanggap ng isang bisita ang UPLB. Halos ako po ay maluha nung nakita ko ang ginagawa ninyong pagtanggap sa akin ngayon. Hindi ko po akalain na ganito pala kalaki itong seremonya ngayong umaga (I did not expect this warm welcome from UPLB. You almost moved me to tears while watching the program. I did not expect this grand ceremony this morning),” said the grateful President Concepcion.

President Concepcion also gamely answered the questions asked by Assoc. Prof. Jeanette Angeline Madamba of the College of Economics and Management. This portion revealed more of the President’s personality and background.

In one of the questions, President Concepcion disclosed that he was supposed to pursue BS Agricultural Engineering in UPLB after passing the UPCAT and the then National Science Development Board scholarship examination, which is today’s Department of Science and Technology scholarship. However, due to financial reasons, he had to choose the nearer De La Salle Araneta University, where he graduated summa cum laude.

The UPLB constituents filled the university theater, led by Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. who gave the welcome remarks. Joining him were UPLB officials, faculty members, staff, students, and alumni.

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Also present were UP Regents Francis Laurel and Alexis Mejia; Dr. Teodoro Herbosa, UP executive vice president; Dr. Elvira Zamora, UP vice president for development; Dr. Wendell Capili, UP assistant vice president for public affairs; and former UPLB chancellors, namely: Dr. Ruben Villareal, Dr. Luis Rey Velasco, and Dr. Rex Victor Cruz.

Atty. Gabriela “Gaby” R. Concepcion, wife of President Concepcion, also witnessed the event.

The program was directed by Asst. Prof. Jeremy dela Cruz, with creative ideas from Asst. Prof. Romeo dela Cruz, Jr. and Assoc. Prof. Jerry Yapo, all of the Department of Humanities. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)