The Institute of Biology recently hosted the 2nd Philippine Symposium on Freshwater Biodiversity and Ecosystems (PSFBE). The symposium, held last 11-14 December 2018 in UP Diliman, was a definite success. Issues of national interest were highlighted during the symposium. This included recurrent flooding, groundwater quality, and invasive freshwater species.
The symposium was an exciting exchange of ideas between the 131 participants who attended. Different perspectives and points-of-views were presented because of the varied profiles of the participants. The different sectors were represented: academe, government, research institutes, NGOs, bilateral agencies and private institutions. Participants also came from all around the country, with people coming from Mindanao and Visayas. Although it is a symposium at the national level, there were also foreign participants from 7 countries (Singapore, Japan, USA, UK, France, Germany, and Israel). This diversity in the participant profile was important in identifying future research priorities and in setting up vital inter-agency collaboration.
The organization of the symposium itself was a fruit of inter-agency linkage. It was co-organized by the Institute of Biology, UP Diliman, University of Santo Tomas, Ateneo de Manila University, Laguna Lake Development Authority, DA-National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau, the Association of Systematic Biologists of the Philippines, and USAID Philippines, in cooperation with the International Society of Limnology (SIL).
The symposium featured keynote talks from global experts in freshwater biology research. The plenary and keynote speakers were Dr. Teodoro Herbosa (UP System), Dr. John Morse (Clemson University, USA), Dr. Karl Wantzen (Université François-Rabelais, France), Dr. Junjiro Negishi (Hokkaido University, Japan), Dr. Tamar Zohary (Kinneret Limnological Laboratory, Israel), Dr. Noboru Okuda (Research Institute of Humanity and Nature, Japan), Dr. Darren Yeo (National University of Singapore) and Dr. Rey Donne Papa (UST).
Local experts were also invited to share their work on Philippine freshwater systems. The invited speakers were Dr. Maria Lourdes Cuvin-Aralar (SEAFDEC), Dr. Jonathan Carlo Briones (UST), Dr. Hendrik Freitag (AdMU), Dr. Milagrosa Martinez-Goss (UPLB), Dr. Daniel Edison Husana (UPLB), Dr. Maria Theresa Mercene-Mutia (NFRDI), Dr. Teresita Perez (AdMU/UP), Acad. Dr. Mudjekeewis Santos (NFRDI and NAST), and Ms. Adelina Santos-Borja (LLDA).
It was also the perfect venue for students to present their studies and get important advice from the field’s experts. In total, there were 25 oral and 24 poster presentations from students who presented their master’s or Ph.D. work. The organizers gave special distinction to the exemplary work and presentation of three students. Mr. Aroin Verdera, from UPD Institute of Biology, won the best student poster presentation for his poster on polyethylene-degrading bacteria. The best student oral presentors were Ms. Nickel Jean Lagare (MSU-IIT) for her work on freshwater crab fauna and Mr. Kenny Chua (NUS) for his work on fish responses to human disturbance.
The organizers also recognized the huge contribution of five distinguished individuals who dedicated most of their professional career to advancing Philippine freshwater research. The Freshwater Taxonomist Award (Phytoplankton) was given to Dr. Milagrosa Martinez-Goss (UPLB). The Public Service Award was given to Hon. Alejandro Enriquez Santiago (Pasig City Councilor). The Freshwater Biology Mentor Award was given to Dr. Teresita Ramos Perez (AdMU/UPD). Dr. Adelaida Palma (BFAR) was awarded the Environmental Science Management Award. Lastly, the Freshwater Conservation Award was given to Dr. Victor Salcedo Soliman (Bicol University).
As part of the symposium, the Philippine Society for Freshwater Science (PSFS) also elected new officers who will serve until 2020. The new officers are:
Interim President: Francis S. Magbanua, PhD (UPD)
Vice President: Rey Donne S. Papa, PhD (UST)
Corresponding Secretary: Teresita R. Perez, PhD (AdMU)
Recording Secretary: Jhoana Garces, MS (AdMU)
Treasurer: Jhaydee Ann Pascual, MS (NMP)
Business Manager: Daniel Edison Husana, PhD (UPLB)
Press Relations Officer: Milette Mendoza, MS (UST)
Auditor: Ma. Vivian C. Camacho, PhD (UPLB)
Liaison Officer: Jonathan Carlo A. Briones, PhD (UST)
To cap off the symposium, the Laguna Lake Development Authority sponsored a one-day field trip to Lake Pandin, San Pablo City, Laguna. This exposed the participants to local aquaculture practices and local government initiatives to boost sustainable ecotourism in the area.
After the symposium, the Institute also organized a two-day workshop on freshwater invertebrate taxonomy facilitated by Dr. John Morse. There were 32 workshop participants, composed mainly of graduate students from different Philippine universities.
Major sponsors of this symposium were UP System’s Office of International Linkages (OIL), UPD Office for Initiative in Culture and the Arts (OICA), Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), Metro Pacific Water, MicroLab, Dakila Trading Corporation, Lesinc Scientific Equipment, Inc., ENZED Trading, and Human Nature.
The PSFBE is held every 2 years. The 1st PSFBE was held in the University of Santo Tomas last June 2016. In 2020, the 3rd PSFBE will be hosted by the Ateneo de Manila University.