Manicad inspires youth through free journalism seminar

Rodrigo “Jiggy” Manicad, GMA News & Public Affairs broadcast journalist, brought his free journalism seminar titled “Inspiring the Youth: Free Journalism Seminar for TV, Documentary, & Film” to UP Los Baños DL Umali Auditorium on August 30.

According to Manicad, the free seminar is his response to some “costly” seminars on journalism.

“Why not gawin na nating free kung kakayanin naman natin,” tells Manicad.

Manicad shared his unforgettable experiences and learning while doing TV reporting and production during the seminar. He also gave several tips in doing TV reporting.

Prior to Manicad’s talk, the seminar also featured Marnie Manicad, film and documentary director, and TV producer, and Maricar Cinco, Philippine Daily Inquirer Southern Luzon correspondent.

Marnie Manicad shared her experiences directing films such as the “Dance of the Steel Bars” with Dingdong Dantes and Hollywood actor Patrick Bergin.

“Find it in your heart to know what it is you want to do, and dapat masaya ka sa ginagawa mo,” advised Manicad.

Her other film “Inside Malacañang” was also showed after her talk.  It is a National Geographic Channel Documentary which features special areas inside the Palace and the people who are always with the president to ensure his safety, and protect his image.

On the other hand, Cinco discussed about writing for print media with focus on the basic steps on writing news stories. She emphasized the importance of having confidence when it comes to writing, through which perfection is not necessary.

Students who attended the seminar were inspired and delighted after listening to the three speakers.

The seminar was the second run of Manicad’s Free Journalism Seminar.  The first one was in SM San Pablo held last June 29.

The seminar was sponsored by the Office of Public Relations of the Office of the Chancellor, UP Los Baños; along with Grace & Truth Christian College, UP Community Broadcasters’ Society, National Geographic Channel, Jiggy Manicad Learning Program, and Department of Education (DepEd) Region 4A CALABARZON.

Manicad is an alumnus of UP Los Baños, a graduate of BA Communication Arts Class 1994. (Arron Lucius B. Herbon)

UP students join Million People March

Students of the University of the Philippines (UP) showed their support to scrap pork barrel by joining the Million People March from Liwasang Bonifacio to Quirino Grand Stand on August 26.

“Makibaka, ‘wag mag-baboy!”  This was the shout by the thousands of people who joined the march.

“Participating in the Million March is being pro-active and not being apathetic. When Filipinos come together, we are taking a stand. The pork barrel scam is something that we don’t accept and we should stop it,” said Tristan Zinampan, a development communication alumnus of UP Los Banos (UPLB).

Meanwhile, Love Baurile, a devcom student from UPLB, shared that small movements could result to a big contribution.

The idea of the Million People March started with a Facebook event led by Arnold Pedrigal, Peachy Bretana, and Zena Bernardo-Bernardo in response to the pork barrel scam.

The pork barrel scam petition was triggered by President Benigno Aquino’s plans about the reformation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Said reformation was supposed to clear the corruption in the system.

Orly Putong, a UP Diliman (UPD) student, described it only as a “new program to cover up the old corruption system.”

“It should be abolished,” shares Jian Gomez, another UPD student.  He further commented that pork barrel should be re-channeled to public services such as education system, health service and transportation.

The Million People March served as the voice of the people’s assertions towards corruption. (Arianne Grace Bautista)

Seaweeds as potential plant growth stimulator

The National Crop Protection Center – University of the Philippines Los Banos (NCPC-UPLB) is currently conducting a three-year project study on the effectiveness of red seaweeds as inducer of growth in plant and resistance to pests.

In partnership with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), the study titled “Biological Efficacy Evaluation Radiation-Modified Carrageenan and Chitosan as Inducers of Resistance against Major Pest and Diseases in Rice” is headed by Dr. Gil Magsino, a researcher from NCPC-UPLB.

The study is under the program of PCAARRD, “Plant Bio-Stimulants and Elicitor from Radiation-Modified Natural Polymers” which is divided into three projects. The first project is the one being managed by NCPC and the other two are: Evaluation of the Effects of Radiation-Modified Carrageenan and Chitosan on the Growth and Yield of Mungbean (Vigna radiate) and Peanut (Arachis hypogea), headed by Dr. Lucille V. Abad, a chemist from the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute; and Elucidation of Growth Promotion Mechanisms of Radiation-Modified Carrageenan and Chitosan on Rice, headed by Dr. Constancio A. Asis, Jr. of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).

The program was officially started on May 15 but the start of the actual research work for the project is mid-August this year. Planting of rice crops to be used for the experiments should be synchronized to the actual planting season of farmers in order to get accurate and corresponding results from real-life set-up. Two weeks will be allotted for land preparation, but there is no definite day of planting yet since other factors like weather condition should be taken into consideration.

The constant rain and storm threats delay the process, due to the plant’s sensitivity to excessive moisture. Strong wind may also destroy the seedlings when planted without proper planning.

The proposal to do the study was passed in year 2010 but only got its approval recently this year. It was presented to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) but it was PCCAARD that approved the idea.

According to Maureen de Roxas, a Research Assistant under Dr. Magsino, the idea of doing a research study on the effects of seaweeds to agricultural plants was introduced to them by Dr. Abad.  The lack of sufficient knowledge about entomology and plant pathology brought Dr. Abad to seek for partnership with Dr. Magsino. “It was the concern for plants’ health that influenced Dr. Magsino to accept the offer,” said de Roxas.

Studies on the effects of seaweeds in the growth of plants were already done in other countries like America. Results of study conducted in Washington States in 2011 suggest that seaweed extract applications can reduce pest mite population.

Another study in Vermont in 2009 and 2010 showed that seaweed extracts reduce fruit damage of some fruit varieties. According to Majelia Magallona, University Extension Specialist, also a member of Dr. Magsino’s team, Dr. Magsino learned that Malaysia has been mass producing seaweeds to be used as plant fertilizers. However, when asked about the basis of their practice, there was no research presented. According to them, they just saw the improvements to their crops that is why they adopted it.

Even though the use of seaweed extracts as plant growth stimulator in agriculture has been known in some countries, it is not yet introduced here in the Philippines. The main concern of the study is to be able to publish a research that will prove the effectiveness of the technology.

The project will be utilizing Euchuma or red seaweeds which contain three types of carrageenan namely: Iota, Kappa and Lambda. The focus of the study will be the effect of these carrageenan in plant vigor. High plant vigor means high resistance of plants against pests and diseases. When plants have high vigor, the input of pesticides and other harmful substances will be lessened, thus stimulating a healthier and natural growth in plant.

PCCAARD allotted 3.4 million for the three-year project and PNRI has the source of seaweeds which they will be supplying to the project sites.

When asked about the possible benefits of the study, de Roxas said “If it will be proven effective, the benefit will be healthier farmland due to less input of chemicals… and if it’s cheaper, it will benefit the farmers.” (Caress L. Tolentino)

117 donors for this year’s UPLB Sanduguan bloodletting activity

A total of 117 individuals donated blood during the Sanduguan bloodletting activity of the Red Cross Youth of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (RCY of UPLB) in partnership with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Laguna Chapter on August 14 at the lobby of the College of Human Ecology UPLB.

Ma. Sofia Irene Escolano, RCY of UPLB Blood Program Committee Head, said that it was almost the same number compared to last year’s Sanduguan with 118 donors. A total of 214 persons actually registered but others were not qualified as donors.

The bloodletting activity was opened to UPLB students and members of the Los Baños community who were willing to join.  Snacks, certificate and souvenirs were given to donors right after the procedure.  The donated blood were brought to PRC Laguna Chapter blood bank for testing and safekeeping.

According to Fertina Gellen Resuello, a third year BS Chemical Engineering student, donating blood gives her a different experience and it gives her the sense of contentment. With the blood she donated, she felt that she could directly save lives.

The purpose of the annual activity is to collect blood that can be used readily by patients during emergencies.  To be a qualified donor, one should be: 16 years old and above, at least 50 kg in weight, have no new tattoo and piercing for the past year, have no open wounds and have slept at least six hours. Minors who are 17 years old and below should have consent from their parents or guardians. About two cups of blood or 500 cc is being contracted from a donor’s body, this can help approximately three patients in an emergency room.

The major partner organizations of the activity were the Rotary Club of Los Baños Makiling and UPLB Corps of Sponsors. Other sponsors were: Alliance of Industrial Engineering Majors of UPLB; UP Cell Biological Society; UP Phytopathological Society; Society of Applied Mathematics of UPLB; UP Entomological Society; UPLB Grange Association; Alpha Sigma Fraternity; and Miguyz eatery.

The Sanduguan is the first bloodletting activity of RCY of UPLB this academic year. They have three major bloodletting activities annually including Bloodline: The Pledge of Life, done every second semester wherein the organization awards the eldest and youngest blood donor and the Bloodiest Rumble which is being participated in by the UPLB organizations during the February Fair.

The bloodletting activities of the RCY of UPLB are under the supervision of PRC Laguna Chapter who supplies the facilities, physicians and nurses. (Mary Rose B. Manlangit)

Modified weather stations benefit Laguna disaster-prone areas

Eight Automatic Weather Station (AWS) units with Early Warning System (EWS) for floods and landslides were installed in four towns of Laguna namely Mabitac, Famy, Rizal and Pila. These towns are included in the list of areas susceptible to floods and landslides according to the 2009 report of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau – Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MGB – DENR). The implementation of the system ran for a year which started from July 2012 up to July 31, 2013.

As the head of the project, Prof. Nelio C. Altoveros from the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Physics (IMSP) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and his team showcased their exhibit on Early Warning System (EWS) during SyenSaya 2013 at the Copeland Gymnasium in UPLB, July 31 – August 2.

Automatic Weather Station (AWS)

The conventional AWS was modified to include an EWS box which houses a Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) module that receives the warning text message from the AWS box. The AWS can read weather parameters such as rainfall, wind speed, wind direction, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and solar radiation.  It consists of the following weather instruments:

Wind cups. It consists of four hemispherical cups placed at the ends of four horizontal arms which are mounted at equal angles to each other on a vertical shaft. The air flow turns the shaft proportional to the wind speed. The turning of the cups will then be counted over a predetermined period of time to produce the average wind speed.

Rain gauge. This is placed at the upper lever of the console to measure the amount of rainfall. It also measures precipitation in millimeters.

Solar panel. This serves as the source of energy during electric blackout. It also powers the station during the day and changes the upper capacitor for the night operation. Lithium batteries are used as back-up for cloudy and windy days.

Wind vane. It has a pivotal arrow that turns in the direction of the wind.

Thermo Hygrometer. It reads the temperature and also measures humidity. Humidity is a representation of the concentration of the water vapour in the air. To be more familiar, it is locally termed as “halumigmig.”

Wireless range. It ensures consistent transmission from the integrated sensor suite to the console. To avoid delay in the transmission of data due to the weather condition, it acts as a channel for definite data logging and transmission.

Another device was attached to the AWS to determine whether the atmospheric data gathered has already reached the critical level identified by PAGASA. The data then triggers the EWS siren and light as warning to the community for varied length of time as stipulated by the color warnings: 5 sec ON and 10 sec OFF for 1 minute, yellow warning (7.5-15mm rain); 5 sec ON and 5 sec OFF for 1 minute, orange warning (15-30mm rain); and 10 sec ON and 3 sec OFF for continuous warning until someone from the LGU unplugs the EWS, red warning (more than 30mm rain).  The siren can be heard 3km from the site.

Professor Altoveros explained that the alarm is very crucial as floods can happen even in the early hours of the day without people noticing it.

“It is important to consider not only the data you’ve collected on rainfall, wind speed, and direction, but more importantly during strong rains, the community should be warned,” he added.

According to Professor Altoveros, the installation and implementation of the AWS was a success. So far, the only problem perceived is the inconsistency of the signal on remote areas which affects the reliability of the delivery of weather reports.

The team has scheduled regular monthly monitoring of the system. Professor Altoveros said that there is a need to further study the locality of a certain community to adapt the warning level depending on the community rainfall and water level tolerance since the warning level scheme is currently patterned in the topography of Metro Manila.

Future modification of the system includes the use of radio frequency to ensure a steady delivery of warning messages and weather reports. This will address the problem of the inconsistent signal of cell sites in remote areas. Another is the installation of a satellite module to the AWS that will provide global satellite connectivity to ensure uncontested message delivery. However, the said modifications require a significant amount of money.

The AWS is a World Food Programme (WFP) funded project of the School Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) and IMSP UPLB.  The AWS installation is a P3-million funded research study by the WFP as part of the Disaster Preparedness and Response project. The idea of a modified AWS was submitted as a proposal to the WFP’s second phase of the technical support to the Philippines for Disaster Preparedness and Response Activities.

As an off shoot project, Professor Altoveros and his team were tasked to install an AWS in Mt. Makiling, which is expected to reach completion by September this year. Another installation will be in the Quezon province.

Professor Altoveros’ team include: Julius Cris V. Salinas, instructor from IMSP and Thaddeus P. Lawas, University Research Associate from SESAM, as project coordinators; Joyce Ragudo, Rendendo Mata, and Jedd Jaurique as project staff; and several BS Applied Physics students from UPLB.

Communication Protocol

One of the components of the project is a communication protocol wherein three LGU officials from each municipality/town will receive text messages from the AWS.  The messages will then be assessed for carrying out disaster plans of the community.

The idea is to ensure that the community people are aware on what to do during calamities through series of consultations, awareness campaigns, seminars and disaster and emergency drills in partnership with PAGASA.  Strategic locations for evacuations in each municipality were also identified during the seminars conducted.

“Basically, signal nos. 1, 2, and 3 are based on wind speed. Now, PAGASA has the color warnings based on rainfall.  It does not take a storm for floods and landslides to happen as what we have seen during the onslaught of Habagat.   With the EWS, since we’re already warned, we don’t have to wait for something bad to happen before we move, and all the action plans are localized,” said Ragudo, project staff.

Meanwhile, weather information from all installed AWS can be accessed through (uplbweather 2, uplbweather 3, uplbweather4 and uplbweather5 for the other municipalities). (Crispin Mahrion B. Abacan, with reports from Jan Amiel C. de Leon and Noli A. Magsambol III)

Dr. Erwin Awitan on Feed Sanitation and Hygiene

Dr. Erwin Awitan, a technical consultant and a former assistant professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine in the University of the Philippines Los Baños, conducted a seminar titled, “Feed Sanitation and Hygiene” in the Animal Science Lecture Hall on August 2 as part of the Animal Science 299 Graduate Seminar Series. The seminar discussed about the problems associated with poultry management and the ways for proper feed handling.

Dr. Awitan talked about the experienced difficulties of farmers in poultry management which lower the performance of broiler chickens. Farmers complain that something is wrong with the feeds.  However, Dr. Awitan explained that the feeds do have complete nutritional requirements. The real problem is that farmers and other animal scientists fail to provide the right environment for the chickens.

Discussing heat stress among chicks, Dr. Awitan emphasized that high temperature maximizes water consumption of the chicks which causes wet droppings. Heat is also related with other problems in poultry management such as in feed handling as high temperature causes grain damages.

“They [farmers] don’t understand how to play humidity inside the building,” Dr. Awitan explained.

According to him, the temperature requirement is not satisfied because farmers don’t apply the concept of heat index. They often misread the poultry’s behaviour. As a result, the chicks are more vulnerable to infections and metabolic diseases.

Further, based on Dr. Awitan’s cited findings, the biggest problem that poultry farmers experience today is the disease among chickens called Necrotic Enteritis. It is the inflammation of the small intestine caused by pathogens which is usually acquired from contaminated feeds.  He shared that this could also be due to poor husbandry practices among poultry farmers.

“Just imagine the already stressed broilers ingest feeds with high bacterial content…” he explained.

Dr. Awitan also shared that to reduce the inefficiency and mortality rate among broilers, farmers should reduce heat, avoid feed contamination, provide force ventilation, and improve husbandry and animal health. He also added that custom fit nutrition, energy balance, and digestibility should be considered by farmers to have a higher efficiency and production rate in their poultries. (Christine Mae B. Santos)