Sixteen Taiwanese and five Filipino Project LAKBAY (Learning Actively through Knowledge-Based Appreciation for Youth) fellows, together with the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) and Edu-Connect Southeast Asia Association staff, visited the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) on 17 January 2024. They were accompanied by Dr. Eing Ming Wu, senior managing adviser of Edu-Connect Southeast Asia Association-Taiwan; visiting professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG); and a SEARCA Senior Fellow.
Project LAKBAY, an initiative by the UPOU Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS) and Edu-Connect Southeast Asia Association-Taiwan, is a youth cultural and learning immersion camp aimed at enhancing youth awareness and active participation in global sustainability programs.
During the visit, the Project LAKBAY fellows were briefed on SEARCA's mandate, its 11th Five-Year Plan, and its core programs.
Dr. Maria Cristeta Cuaresma, senior program head of the Education and Collective Learning Department (ECLD), presented ECLD's projects and activities focusing on graduate scholarships, institutional development assistance, technical trainings, and learning events.
Dr. Cuaresma also emphasized the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC) grants and activities. Dr. Wu expressed keen interest in UC and encouraged SEARCA to extend invitations to Taiwanese universities.
Meanwhile, Mr. Jerome Cayton Barradas, Project Coordinator II of the Center's Research and Thought Leadership Department (RTLD), shared RTLD's initiatives in conducting relevant research in agricultural and rural development, collaborating with relevant organizations and institutions in on-the-ground interventions, and implementing support programs and knowledge platform.
Some of the department's noteworthy projects include the School-Plus-Home Garden Project (SHGP) in Laguna, Philippines, and its offshoot projects, namely, the School-Plus-Home Gardens cum Biodiversity Enhancement and Enterprise (SHGBEE) in Palawan, Philippines and Cambodia and the School Edible Landscaping for Entrepreneurship (SEL4E) in Rizal, Philippines; the Coconut and Calamansi Roadmapping project; and the Consortium for Agricultural Development, Research, and Extension (CADRE).
Additionally, Mr. Barradas introduced RTLD's support programs, such as the International Foundation for Science (IFS)-SEARCA Mentorship Program for Advanced Grants. Dr. Wu inquired about its eligibility requirements and suggested involving Taiwanese university professors as mentors.
Moreover, Mr. Barradas also introduced the Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources (AFNR) Knowledge Platform, a knowledge generation to knowledge utilization community of practice. Dr. Wu agreed to its directions and commended its integration of a social learning component.
Lastly, the visitors were acquainted with the Center's Emerging Innovation for Growth Department (EIGD). The meeting concluded with Dr. Wu inviting SEARCA to collaborate with UPOU and Edu-Connect Southeast Asia Association in future Project LAKBAY initiatives.
The SEARCA delegation led by Assoc. Prof. Joselito Florendo, deputy director for administration, warmly received the visitors. Also present were Dr. Cuaresma, Mr. Barradas, and Ms. Ma. Victoria Bravo, executive assistant, Office of the Deputy Director for Programs.