Earthworms have been blamed as the culprits by Ifugao farmers for the collapse of the rice terraces. Dr. Nestor Baguinon, Retired University of the Philippines Los Baños Professor and Adjunct Faculty of the UP Open University (UPOU) Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS), tackled this issue and sought to answer if earthworms are indeed the “accidental culprits or innocent victims” in the collapse of the Ifugao Rice Terraces.

In his presentation entitled “The Science behind the Relationship of Earthworms and the Collapse of Rice Terraces in Ifugao” at the FMDS Let’s Talk It Over on 17 August 2017, Dr. Baguinon mentioned that residents and local farmers in Ifugao believe that earthworms are alien species, intentionally introduced after the 1990s and are therefore the sole reason for the deterioration of the Ifugao Rice Terraces.

To properly understand the issue, Dr. Baguinon explained the nature of earthworms and their biological characteristics. According to him, earthworms can either be hermaphroditic, meaning they can reproduce asexually or sexually, where two individuals copulate and produce fertilized eggs enclosed in a cocoon. The giant earthworms are pigmented, local to the rice terraces and thrive in moist soil that are not water-logged. The other kind of earthworm, Pontoscolex, are unpigmented, introduced species, and can live in both dry and water-logged rice paddies.

He also explained the beliefs of the locals are mere myths. The earthworms have inhabited Ifugao long before 1990s, but not in the terraces but rather in the muyong -- the communal forests within the vicinity of the rice terraces. Because of the deteriorating forests of Ifugao, earthworms found sanctuary in the rice terraces to survive. He goes no to explain that unlike golden kuhol, earthworms are native to the area, and are not introduced from foreign places. In addition, Ifugao farmers’ shift from traditional to modern farming is another cause of earthworm infestation in the rice paddies, including the use of pesticides since these decimate the predators of the earthworms.

Dr. Baguinon also explained that there are other triggers to the collapse of the rice terraces, especially environmental factors like earthquakes that alter irrigation lines, and climate changes like El Nino and La Nina. He concluded his presentation by saying that this problem about the collapse of the rice terraces is not unsolvable. The Ifugao people can be educated about the natural, environmental and agricultural causes and solutions. They can then take advantage of their knowledge to continue making the Ifugao Rice Terraces productive.

With the webinar streamed through UPOU’s online repository of open educational resources, the UPOU Networks, and Facebook Live, questions and comments were encouraged from the audience. Some of the comments that surfaced was a suggestion to advise Ifugao students to focus on the Ifugao Rice Terraces in their thesis, and to conduct cross-cutting and interdisciplinary studies of different issues relevant to the Ifugao Rice Terrace.

The UPOU FMDS showed appreciation to Dr. Baguinon through a certificate presented by Dr. Consuelo Habito, Program Chair for the UPOU Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management Program. (Anna Cañas-Llamas)

The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) joined the Los Baños Science Community Foundation, Inc. (LBSCFI) in a toast for Sustainable Supply of Water in Los Baños at the LBSCFI-organized Technoforum on 03 August 2017 at the W.D. Dar Hall, PCAARD Complex, Los Baños, Laguna.

UPOU was represented by Dr. Ricardo Bagarinao, Dean of the UPOU Faculty of Education and Chair of the UPOU Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee; Dr. Consuelo Habito, Program Chair of the UPOU Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management Program; Dr. Cesar Luna, Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration; and Ms. Elvy Pamulaklakin, Chief Administrative Officer of the UPOU Campus Development and Maintenance Office. In addition, the UPOU Multimedia Center was tapped as the official video documentation team of the event and Ms. Anna Cañas-Llamas, UPOU Information Officer, served as UPOU’s representative to the Technoforum Committee.

About the Technoforum

The Technoforum is a yearly activity conducted by the LBSCFI as part of its National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) Celebration, dubbed as “SyenSaya.” This year, SyenSaya was conducted on 2-4 August 2017 together with the CALABARZON Regional Science and Technology Week, with the theme “Science and Technology in Harmony with Biodiversity.”

True to SyenSaya’s theme, the Technoforum tackled the issue of water supply sustainability in Los Baños. Entitled “Maka-kalikasang Talakayan tungo sa Sustenableng Supply ng Tubig sa Los Baños,” this year’s Technoforum reached out to resort owners, administrators of schools, restaurants and water refilling stations, barangay officials and and representatives from homeowners associations.

Three resource persons were invited to share knowledge and information related to the topic. Dr. Nathaniel C. Bantayan, Director of the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystem (MCME), shared the current state of Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve (MMFR) as an ASEAN Heritage Park. He emphasized that the supply of water in Los Baños is highly dependent on the health of MMFR. He stated that the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) was given the mandate to protect the Mt. Makiling Watershed, and explained the plans, protection and monitoring measures as well as the different researches that MCME conducts. He also reported that although Makiling Watershed is in good condition, it is important to stop illegal logging to maintain its good condition. Dr. Bantayan also shared the continuing challenges MCME faces in managing the MMFR.

Engr. Fatima Jean R. Alvarez, Production Supervisor of the Laguna Water District Aquatech Resources Corporation (LARC), gave a presentation about “Water Demand and Water Supply” in Los Baños. She stated that LARC supplies the water needs of all barangays of Los Baños except for Brgy. Bagong Silang. According to her, at present LARC has about 24,000 active connections. Engr. Alvarez also explained that the water demand can be categorized as domestic, public and commercial. She highlighted that population and climate change are among the major factors that affect the water consumption. She also touched on the cost and distribution of water in the municipality and gave visual examples of how much water is consumed on a daily basis for regular activities. Before she ended, she ensured that Los Baños has a safe and sufficient supply of water.

The third speaker was Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez, Associate Professor IV of the UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM). She shared her study about water sources in the Philippines wherein she mentioned that the Philippines ranks among the lowest in fresh water availability. She also presented the different water-related government agencies and the different laws and ordinances relevant to water supply and usage in the Philippines specifically in Los Baños and Calamba. She ended her presentation with a list of what can be done to ensure water sustainability like clarifying local ordinances, responsibilities, and penalties for non-compliances, strengthening the implementation of existing laws and policies and alloting payments for environmental services. She encouraged the audience to give back to Mt. Makiling since Mt. Makiling is the primary reason Los Baños is enjoying sufficient water supply.

The presentations were followed by an enlightening question and answer session, afterwhich the toast for sustainable water supply by all participants of the forum. (Anna Cañas-Llamas)

The UP Open University (UPOU) organized and conducted the first-ever Campus Tour for its new and old students and alumni on 09 August 2017 at the UPOU Headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines.

The Campus Tour provided a venue for students and alumni to get to know their university more by experiencing the campus physically, and meeting UPOU staff and faculty face-to-face. Since UPOU delivers its instructions fully online, the opportunity for students to visit the campus and physically interact with professors and student support staff is usually during their graduation. Most of the interactions of UPOU students are done virtually.

The UPOU Campus Tour was held in two batches. The morning batch was scheduled at 9:30 AM while the afternoon batch met at 1:30 PM. Each batch went through a game called Bing-OU which required students to take selfies in UPOU landmarks, answer special questions, and post a Facebook Album using the hashtags - #UPOUCampusTour and #UPOpenUniversity. Twelve students won UPOU T-shirts as prizes. One hundred three students representing 20 UPOU programs participated, including some students of Continuing Education Programs and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

After each tour of the campus, the students were given orientation about the Student Orientation Course Site, the UPOU’s mode of delivery and other academic processes and procedures. Some alumni and continuing students shared their experiences to new students on how to cope with open and distance learning. Students were also given a chance to ask questions at the end of the orientation. Dr. Melinda dela Pena Bandalaria, Chancellor of UPOU, congratulated the students in embracing the idea of lifelong learning through UPOU. She encouraged everyone to continue and pursue their programs to completion amidst all other life's businesses. She expressed her hope to see the students again, especially at the time of their graduation when their dream of “Sasablay din ako” comes true. Deans, faculty members, and support staff from the three Faculty Offices of UPOU joined the short program to address questions from the students. Many of the students found the event very helpful and suggested similar events in the future. Some also suggested a “Campus Night” as a socials event for students. UPOU plans to hold more campus tours soon and make available a virtual tour for students who are not able to come physically. (Anna Canas-Llamas)

UP Open University’s (UPOU) Research Conversations on 11 August 2017 featured Institutionalizing Gender Perspective in Research: Reflexivity as an Alternative, a study by Dr. Primo Garcia, Dean of the Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS); Ms. Luisa Gelisan, University Researcher of the Multimedia Center; and Ms. Paula Muyco, Research Assistant for the Diploma in Social Work and Diploma in Women and Development programs. The study proposes reflexivity as another approach and/or framework to gender research.

According to Dr. Garcia, “reflexivity allows researchers to reflect on their values, beliefs, and assumptions and how it shapes research and the construction or reconstruction of gender structures” which will help them better adjust their responses on more sensitive or intimate issues that arise before, during, and after the research proper.

The talk covered legal instruments to further strengthen gender and development (GAD) efforts such as Former President Fidel V. Ramos’ Memo Order 282 indicating that the academe must mainstream gender in its practices and/or to incorporate GAD issues in its programs and CHED’s Memo Order No. 01 stating that all private and public higher education institutions to mainstream gender in research, administration, extension, and curriculum. As a response to the memo, UPOU institutionalized the Gender-focused Research Grants which are given to proposed studies that have GAD components or are gender-focused after undergoing the review and endorsement process of the research and publication committee. The results of these studies are expected and required to be disseminated in a forum, conference, and colloquium and/or published in a reputable academic publication. Also, UPOU has engendered the institution’s teaching, research, and public service activities to uphold equality in women and men and fulfill and promote women’s human rights and development.

The talk also touched on reactions to the Gender Component requirement in research – these being acquiescence and resistance. Acquiescence was defined as taking a step towards gender mainstreaming, but not enough to facilitate deeper understanding of gender issues and realities, while resistance was defined as force-fitting gender perspective, action or inaction by people, or obvious or implied opposition. These reactions can also be used as parameters to determine the visibility or invisibility of gender in research and the success or failure of gender policies and institutions. To address this issue, reflexivity in research is proposed.

Reflexivity in research can be used (1) to look into how a research topic is anchored on issues of dominance, gender, sexuality, class, age, and race; (2) to determine both perspectives from marginalized sectors and researchers’ values, beliefs, interests, ambitions, and how it shapes research; (3) as a reaction/response to intimate questions and answers brought by doing gender-based research; (4) as an approach to better analyze the process and results of research. In addition to the existing GAD checklist for research, the study presented a framework featuring reflexivity to better guide researchers in pursuing GAD research.

During the forum, a discourse took place as a means to better understand reflexivity as an approach in research. On one hand, there is a concern on the difficulty of achieving reflexivity because academics have been trained and expected to be as objective as possible, throwing away their biases and personal underpinnings and assumptions. On the other, it is believed that academics have a responsibility to acknowledge and practice reflexivity as an alternative approach to gender-based research. With this, there is a call to action for younger and starting researchers to embrace reflexivity and pursue research in such a way that conjuncts the reflexivity in qualitative with the rigor of quantitative research.

To close the conversation, a question-and-answer activity was facilitated where the participants shared the gender component in their research experiences, and what could have been the gender component if there were none considered during the time of research. (Ma. Rosette San Buenaventura)

The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) extended the deadline for the submission of abstracts for the 5th National Conference on Open and Distance e-Learning (NCODeL 2017) to September 15, 2017 to accommodate papers on open and distance learning from Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs), Technical and Vocational Institutions (TVIs), and other institutions and practitioners in the Philippines.

The theme of NCODeL 2017 is “Philippine Education in the Age of Openness. ” The three sub-themes, namely, Open Education Practices (OEP), Technology in Open and Distance e-Learning (ODeL) and Quality Assurance in ODeL, should be reflected on the abstracts for paper and panel proposals which should be submitted online through With a maximum of 350 words in English, the abstracts of the paper and panel proposals should be research-based and have not been presented nor currently for review in any other professional meetings.

As host and lead organizer of NCODeL 2017, UPOU invites all teachers, researchers, administrators, policymakers and practitioners who are doing and practicing or interested to do research and practice online learning, elearning and blended learning to participate in the conference on 22-23 November 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Manila, Philippines. NCODeL 2017 aims to introduce participants to the concepts, principles, and methodologies of and recent trends in open learning and build upon the outcomes of the conference held two years ago by letting participants share experiences and best practices.

NCODeL 2017 is part of UPOU's effort to fulfill its mandate in RA 10650 (Open and Distance Learning Law) to promote open and distance learning in the country, in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) which have both endorsed the conference. Other organizers include the UPOU Foundation, Inc. (UPOUFI) and the Philippine Society for Distance Learning, Inc (PSDL). More details about NCODeL 2017 is available at

At the Research Conversations organized by the UP Open University (UPOU) Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA) on 28 July 2017, Dr. Diego Maranan, Assistant Professor at the UPOU Faculty of Information and Communication Studies (FICS), discussed part of his PhD research -- a device called Haplós. His research draws from philosophy, somatic practices, neuroscience, and technology design, and culminated in the creation of a device for facilitating body awareness. Haplós is a novel, wearable, programmable, remotely controlled technology which uses vibrating motors. Dr. Maranan developed this as part of his research at CogNovo, a 4.1 million EU-funded project at Plymouth University, United Kingdom, that focused on interdisciplinary research on creativity and cognition.

Dr. Maranan opened the talk with the question “Do you know yourself?”, pertaining to the knowledge of our bodies as physical parts of ourselves as opposed to the typical response about mental or behavioral state. This underlined the concept of body awareness which deals with the connection between the way we organize our bodies and our disposition, the malleability of our concept of our bodies, and the understanding of our body as part of a space.

Dr. Maranan mentioned that his research has shown that Haplós can increase body awareness by enhancing the user’s perception of the body part that has been exposed to the device. In addition, Haplós has also shown to decrease food cravings with statistical significance. Because the sensations provided by the Haplós system have been described as highly unusual, pleasurable, and engaging. Haplós is theorized to interrupt the elaboration of intrusive thoughts associated with food cravings, as predicted by the Elaborated Intrusion Theory of desire.

Potential and speculative future applications of Haplós were discussed after his presentation which included inquiries (1) on the study’s application for mental issues and other medicinal purposes, local fashion and production, and (2) for the study’s possible continuation at UP Open University in collaboration with other campus units in the country.

This article is based largely on the abstract of and with permission from Dr. Maranan. (Rosette San Buenaventura)

The UP Open University (UPOU), Local Government Unit of Mauban, Quezon, Quezon Power (Philippines), Inc. (QPL), the UPOU Foundation, Inc.(UPOUFI) and the Department of Education signed the memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the establishment of the sixth phase of the Teacher Development Program, Phase 6, which has been renamed to “TDP/Enhanced Continuing Education Program for Mauban” (TDP/eCEP4Mauban) to expand its reach. The MOA signing and program launching was held on 3 August 2017 at the Audiovisual Room, UP Open University, Los Baños, Laguna.

UPOU Chancellor and TDP Program Leader, Dr. Melinda dP. Bandalaria; Mauban Mayor Fernando “Dingdong” Llamas; UPOUFI President Felix Librero; QPL Community Relations Manager Chuckie Rivera; and representative from the Department of Education-Quezon Province, Dr. Felipe Malabaguio led the MOA signing and program launching.

The TDP, which started in 2005, was initially established to provide scholarship grants to public school teachers from Mauban, who shall pursue graduate studies in UPOU. From TDP1 to TDP5, 164 elementary and high school teachers have been awarded scholarships and 110 have graduated. The sixth phase of the program will cover other professions and areas deemed important to achieve a holistic development for Mauban, Quezon.

Dr. Bandalaria said that the TDP6-eCEP4Mauban project will be implemented for 36 months, from August 2017 to July 2020 and will have two major components — scholarship grants to relevant degree programs offered by UPOU, and scholarship to short-term training programs.

Dr. Felix Librero appreciated the people behind the project. He reminded them to continue with the program for “the progress of the community and people through education.” Mayor Fernando "Dingdong" Llamas, announced that he is already planning to institutionalize the funding support for TDP through municipal ordinances to ensure the continuity of the program. On behalf of QPL, Community Relations Manager Chuckie Rivera also conveyed their never-ending support and indebtedness, “let us not stop, let us not be static.” He also challenged everyone to "pursue individual and holistic growth."

Two of the graduates of TDP’s earlier phases, Ms. Mharlee V. Derecho (Phase 1) and Mr. Wilson S. Martinez (Phase 3) shared how TDP has become a big help in their journeys as learners and as teachers. The sacrifices and hardships became beautiful experiences when they graduated and began to see the fruits of their hard work. They are now both Principals in their respective schools and are also encouraging their teachers to be a part of the TDP.

During the program launch, the 12 TDP6-eCEP4Mauban scholars of were introduced. Aside from the scholarship grants, each one received a "technology package" consisting of a laptop computer unit and a pocket WiFi.

The TDP6-eCEP4Mauban scholars are the following:

  1. Ms. Cristine G. Alpajora (Diploma of Arts in Language and Literacy Education)
  2. Ms. Roxanne C. Apostol (Diploma of Arts in Language and Literacy Education)
  3. Ms. Rianne Karla M. Gandia (Diploma of Arts in Language and Literacy Education)
  4. Ms. Charlen Joy R. Geguinto (Diploma of Arts in Language and Literacy Education)
  5. Ms. Loisy Grace A. Lorena (Diploma of Arts in Language and Literacy Education)
  6. Ms. Hyayella S. Mandrique (Diploma of Arts in Language and Literacy Education)
  7. Mr. Edwin L. Reyes (Master of Arts in Social Studies Education)
  8. Ms. April Joy E. Urciana (Master of Arts in Social Studies Education)
  9. Ms. Amy Shierle L. Barnes (Master of Social Work)
  10. Mr. Peter Orlan Catalla (Diploma in Science Teaching)
  11. Ms. Dennise A. Gabo (Master of Arts in Language and Literacy Education)
  12. Mr. Kenneth T. Caliwanagan (Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Studies)

(Lara Bonifacio and Luisa Gelisan)

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has endorsed the 5th National Conference on Open and Distance e-Learning (NCODeL 2017), set to happen on 22-23 November 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Manila, Philippines.

The CHED endorsement encourages all officials, employees and students from all Higher Education Institution in the country for voluntary participation. Officials and employees of State and Local Colleges and Universities are advised to obtain permission from the Head of the Institution and use government funds properly.

Organized by the UP Open University (UPOU), in collaboration with the UPOU Foundation, Inc. (UPOUFI), and the Philippine Society for Distance Learning (PSDL), NCODeL provides a venue for administrators, teachers scholars, practitioners and policymakers to learn from each other as they explore spaces and possibilities for ODeL for development.

As part of UPOU’s implementation of RA 10650, or the Open and Distance Learning Act (ODL Act), the NCODeL 2017 aims to introduce participants to the concepts, principles, and methodologies of and recent trends in open learning. With the theme “Philippine Higher Education in the Age of Openness,” NCODeL 2017 hopes to build upon the outcomes of the conference held in 2015.

Submission of abstracts for the conference is open until 15 September 2017. More details about NCODeL 2017 may be found at, and inquiries may be addressed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) calls for the submission of abstracts for the upcoming 5th National Conference on Open and Distance e-Learning (NCODeL) to be held at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Metro Manila, Philippines on 22-23 November 2017. The submission is open to all practitioners and scholars from all higher education institutions and technical and vocational institutions. With the theme “Philippine Education in the Age of Openness,” the 5th NCODeL aims to serve as a venue for educational institutions involved in open and distance learning in the country to share their experiences, practices, and research on ODeL.

Abstracts for panel and paper proposals, conveying this year’s conference theme and the sub-themes, must be written in English of no more than 350 words, research-based, and have not been presented or accepted in any other professional meetings nor currently being reviewed for presentation at any other professional meeting.

Abstracts will be accepted online until 15 August 2017 through First authors of the accepted abstract will be notified by 15 September 2017. Authors with accepted abstracts are required to register and attend the conference for their paper presentation, and must submit their full paper by 15 October 2017. Paper presenters and participants can avail of the early bird registration until 31 August 2017. For more information about the conference, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

On 07 July 2017, Assistant Professor Rita Ramos, Faculty Secretary of the UP Open University (UPOU) Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS), and Chair of the UPOU Health and Wellness Committee, served as the speaker for the Research Conversation on the Flagship Program: TAYO or Team Approach and Youthful Outlook for UPOU. TAYO is UPOU’s Flagship Program that focuses on health and wellness and aims to provide and/or establish healthy work spaces for a healthier workforce.

Prof. Ramos started the talk by sharing an integral part of the TAYO program which are UPOU’s existing groups who are involved in activities such as volleyball, basketball, pilates, dance, band, bikers, and photography groups. These informal groups help with fitness, relaxation, and socialization – conditions theoretically ideal for increased work productivity.

She also gave a preview of other programs that can be included in the future such as ergonomics which can be beneficial to the UPOU employees. At the moment, TAYO’s structure is fluid and flexible for the purposes of recreation and relaxation; however, the health and wellness committee aims for the program to be more empirical and theory-driven as it progresses. Although still open for further suggestions and comments, Prof. Rita discussed possible variables to consider in determining the effectivity of the program such as measuring work productivity, fitness level, and vital signs. In an effort to address the lack of empirical data, the committee conducted an assessment survey of the health and wellness program. With 25 respondents for the initial survey, she hoped that more will participate in both the activities and assessment survey.

Prof. Rita also lightly grazed on existing studies in health and wellness such as Ammendoila et al’s (2016) inquiry on using the intervention mapping framework for designing a health and wellness program in the workplace, Macdonald and Westover’s (2011) study on decreasing employee obesity and increasing overall health, and Losina et al’s (2017) paper on the relation of physical activity and decreased work absenteeism.

To cap the talk, Prof. Rita raised two points to consider in the continuation of the health and wellness program: (1) should the program continue as unstructured/flexible or should it be structured? and (2) should the program remain voluntary or should it be obligatory? These points attracted many comments and suggestions from the participants who were mostly UPOU faculty and staff members. The session ended with the giving of a certificate of appreciation to Asst. Prof. Ramos and a salo-salo over extended conversations among the employees.