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Four UP Open University (UPOU) faculty members, headed by Chancellor Melinda Dela Peña Bandalaria, visited Kanazawa, Japan last 31 January to 3 February 2017, to take part in various research forums and courtesy visits in relation to the Ifugao Satoyama Meister Training Program (ISMTP). Chancellor Bandalaria, together with three UPOU faculty and project members, Dr. Joane Serrano, Dr. Consuelo Habito and Asst. Prof. Aurora Lacaste, and four local project collaborators, Mr. Albert Pawingi of the Office of the Governor of Ifugao Province, Dr. Napoleon Taguiling of Ifugao State University (IFSU), Dr. Romeo Gomez of Benguet State University (BSU), and Assoc. Prof Melanie Subilla of Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (MPSPC), constituted the delegation from the Philippines. Dr. Koji Nakamura, Professor Emeritus at Kanazawa University and Project Leader of the Ifugao Satoyama Meister Program, and Dr. Rizalina Edpalina, Organizer for the Ifugao Project, were the project collaborators from Japan.

The first courtesy visit was at Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Hokuriku Office in Kanazawa City. Chancellor Bandalaria talked about the shared vision of UPOU and its project partners in expanding the program for the sake of cultural preservation of the Ifugao Rice Terraces (IRT). She also stressed the importance of modern technology in engaging and involving the youth sector to the project, and discussed UPOU’s plan in building up sustainability science as a program offering.

After the visit to JICA Office, the delegation participated in the Final Philippines-Japan Forum of the Ifugao Satoyama Meister Training Program (ISMTP) in Noto. With the title "Human Resource Development Program for Sustainable Development of the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)", the forum featured presentations from partners from both Japan and the Philippines. Dr. Napoleon Taguiling of IFSU reported the progress of ISMTP from 2014-2016. Chancellor Melinda Bandalaria presented about the potentiality of remote education for sustainable development of Ifugao. Mr. Tomoko Nitta, Director General of JICA Hokuriku, shared their office’s evaluation of ISMTP (JICA grassroots project). Mr. Masuhiro Izumiya, Mayor of Suzu City, gave a presentation titled “Ifugao from my Perspective”. Mr. Yoshinori Morooka, Professor Emeritus of Kochi University, talked about people and their support system for satoyama/satoumi in the Philippines and Miss Mikiko Nagai, Office Manager of the United Nations University-Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) gave a commentary.

More courtesy visits were done during the second day, including the visit to Kanazawa University (KU) President Koetsu Yamazaki, and KU Information Media Center Director, Akihara Morimoto. Dr. Yamazaki described the more than 200 collaborations of KU with other countries, including the Philippines. He expressed KU’s goal for partnership and exchanges with more Universities. Mr. Pawingi of the Ifugao Province noted how the common problems encountered in Noto and the Ifugao Rice Terraces call for working together and sharing of good practices between the said GIAHS sites. Chancellor Bandalaria said that while the Ifugao project looks like an ambitious undertaking, the collective efforts of the partners would lead to its realization. She also gave a commitment that UPOU will help fund the research component of the project and support wide dissemination and access to instruction and research on IRT. This will be made possible through research conference presentations, publications, and massive open online courses initiated by UPOU. Dr. Joane Serrano added that the partner institutions can share resources that can be used for the online courses. Dr. Fumio Uno, Professor at KU, said that they can help in developing materials with the use of information and communications technology (ICT). After the courtesy visit to the KU President, the group were taken on a tour to the Information Media Center of KU.

The second visit for the day was to the Governor of Ishikawa Prefecture Masanori Tanimoto. Governor Tanimoto praised the achievement of the ISMTP in Noto province, most notably in giving job opportunities for the Noto ISMTP trainees. He also mentioned that he met the ISMTP trainees from Ifugao. He said that the experience of the ISMTP trainees was good so he is hoping that the program will continue. He added that expertise from the academe is important but the involvement of the local government is also as important.

The last visit was to Ishikawa Prefectural University. The group was graciously welcomed by President Hidehiko Kumagai. With the help of two other professors from the university, President Kumagai introduced the university to the guests, describing how agriculture is its main thrust as an institution. After the introductions and some presentations, the group went to a campus tour and visited the laboratory where sake, the Japanese rice wine, was being brewed and tested for taste. The sake, as mentioned by the lab supervisor, is best produced during the winter season.

The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) launched new programs and initiatives on its 22nd Anniversary to continue strengthening its leadership in Open and Distance eLearning (ODeL) in the country and the region. With the theme “Leading in ODeL Within and Beyond,” UPOU’s day-long celebration was held on 24…

Read more: UPOU Launches ODeL Initiatives, Strengthens Partnership On 22nd Anniversary

21st Century Education in an Open World