Watch highlights of President Angelo A. Jimenez’s speech via the video above. Video shot and edited by Al Nikko M. Nagutom, UP MPRO.
Atty. Angelo A. Jimenez started his term of office as the University of the Philippines (UP) President on February 10, 2023, in UP Diliman, Quezon City, vowing to transform UP into a “learner-centered digital university” engaged in transdisciplinary scientific, cultural, and artistic pedagogy, research, and public service.
In the turnover ceremony titled “Singkaban at Balanghai: Pasasalamat at Pagsalubong” held at the Quezon Hall Lobby, outgoing UP President Danilo L. Concepcion, who was assisted by Atty. Roberto M.J. Lara, Secretary of the University, handed over the ceremonial mace of the University President to Jimenez, symbolizing the transferring of authority over the national university. Jimenez will serve as the Chief Academic Officer, Head of the University Faculty, and Chief Executive Officer of UP for the next six years.
Concepcion and Jimenez delivered their respective valedictory and acceptance speeches in front of: family members and friends; officials of the UP System, the Board of Regents, and constituent universities; faculty, students, staff and alumni of UP; government officials and representatives of the private sector; and, international guests of UP, including a delegation of academics from Southern Taiwan and members of the Edu-Connect Southeast Asia Association Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Jimenez accepts the presidency
In his acceptance speech, Jimenez praised Concepcion’s infrastructure accomplishments by referring to him as “Danny, the Builder” and “UP’s first Waterbender”. He also shared some of his visions for UP.
“We need to acquire a global consciousness in carrying out our mandates. . . . UP is envisioned to be at the forefront of transformative scientific, cultural and artistic pedagogy, research and public service in local and global communities. Our mission is to foster efficacy, effectivity and efficiency to transdisciplinary engagement in teaching, research and public service,” Jimenez said.
“Ang UP ay mananatiling Bulwagan ng Dangal at ipagpapatuloy natin ang simulain nito tungo sa husay at dangal,” he added.
He also posed the question, “Aanhin ang husay at dangal kung walang malasakit at kung walang pakikipagkapwa-tao?” as he proceeded to explain some of his ideas for the next six years. He calls for more transformative and collaborative research within and among UP constituent universities that will uplift the lives of the Filipino people. Next, he aims to strengthen linkages with UP alumni who serve as the University’s partners and ambassadors to the world.
Jimenez affirmed that UP must move forward attuned to 21st century education, with digital technology and digital learning, and to critically participate in the Industrial Revolution 4.0. “We will journey towards the transformation to a learner-centered digital university,” he said.
“UP must replicate itself democratically,” Jimenez said, to be of better service to other state universities and colleges. He said UP must reach out to them and share its resources to “extend Honor and Excellence” to the towns and provinces.
He also promised to respond to the lingering issues and concerns of UP faculty and staff, to look into improving benefits, incentives, and to dialogue with the University’s unions to promote the wellbeing of UP’s faculty and employees.
Jimenez mentioned “pride of place” and “pride in people” for UP, making the campuses green spaces, safe spaces, and arts hubs.
“The hallmark of UP in the next six years will be Service to the Nation,” Jimenez said. “Service to the Nation is constitutive to who we are and what we do,” he added.
“UP will remain a bastion of academic freedom. We cannot achieve excellence without it,” he affirmed.
“UP will be strong, courageous, critical and nurturing,” concluded Jimenez.
Jimenez, the 22nd president of UP, is a renowned law practitioner specializing in labor and employment. From 1993 to 2007, he handled national interest cases at the Office of the Secretary of Labor. He served with distinction in major global hotspots where OFWs have been endangered. As Labor Attaché from 1997 to 2005, Jimenez developed overseas labor markets and delivered a broad array of critical government services. He served as Deputy Administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration from 2005 to 2007. He garnered two Presidential citations for his performance during crises in Iraq and Lebanon.
Jimenez is a published writer and an internationally recognized resource person on labor and migration. He also served in the UP Board of Regents, UP’s highest governing body, twice, first as Student Regent in 1992 and as Regent from 2016 to 2021.
In his vision paper, Jimenez spoke of a UP that is a “global university,” and a research university focused on graduate and post-graduate programs and academic linkages. He sees UP continuing as a public service university helping government and industry while being a bastion of academic freedom. Jimenez advocates an Open Data Policy and digital transformation in learning and management. He also envisions UP helping raise the quality of undergraduate education in state universities and colleges.
Concepcion looks back with “deep pride and gratitude”
The previous UP President, Concepcion, is also a lawyer, and served as the 14th Dean of the UP College of Law before he assumed the UP Presidency in 2017. As President, he led efforts to transform UP into the University of the Future. He steered UP through the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling the University to contribute directly to the country’s success in overcoming the public health crisis.
“Much of what we achieved happened before, throughout, and despite the pandemic, and will benefit the University long after we put that period behind us,” Concepcion said during his valedictory address.
Under Concepcion’s administration, the University instituted innovations in all its academic offerings and developed cutting-edge frontier programs. His administration succeeded in raising UP’s budget for research, securing additional faculty and staff items, increasing economic and non-economic benefits for all UP employees, and providing support and learning assistance to faculty, students, and staff.
Concepcion said, “Under my leadership, UP began crafting its academic roadmap to harness technologies that would improve the quality of UP instruction and enhance the learning journey of our students. We planned our transition toward blended learning, strategizing how online delivery systems and a broadcast television network could complement our traditional residential learning.”
From 2017 to 2022, 60 new degree programs were instituted in UP constituent universities. Academic and research programs were developed in three frontier areas: Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, and the Omics sciences, leading to the creation of the Center for Intelligent Systems and the Masters and PhD programs in Data Science Analytics, Informatics, Bioinformatics, and Artificial Intelligence.
He also mentioned important initiatives pursued by UP, such as “the establishment of the UP Noah Center in 2017 as the core component of the UP Resilience Institute, a proactive hub of benchmark innovative and research-based information vital to climate change mitigation and adaptation. . . and the completion of the cycle of drug discovery and trials at the newly-established Center for Early-Stage Drug Development in UP Diliman, which complements the Institute of Herbal Medicine at UP Manila’s National Institute of Health.”
Facilities and infrastructure were completed, transforming the campuses. Concepcion said, “I strove to create an enabling environment for UP’s constituents, with safe, attractive, and sustainable infrastructure conducive to teaching, learning, and working.”
Concepcion added, “We forged new academic partnerships with universities worldwide. Currently, we are in partnership with 350 higher education and research institutions in 43 countries: 49 in North America, 55 in Europe, 3 in Africa, 7 in the Middle East, 22 in Australia and Oceania, and 214 in Asia.” Also during his term, UP rose in world university rankings and is now among the top 500 universities in the world and the top 100 in Asia.
To conclude Concepcion’s valedictory speech, he said “One thing I was never in doubt of was our capability to respond to crisis. The pandemic showed UP at its best, from the medical frontlines to the research laboratory and the communities and the media we serve. I will forever remain proud of our performance under this kind of unprecedented pressure.”
“I will retire from my post with deep pride and gratitude for this opportunity of a lifetime, and welcome my successor with high hopes and expectations, trusting that he will sustain our progressive initiatives, defend our academic freedom as a prerequisite to excellence, and bring our beloved University of the Philippines to new heights of glory and service to our people,” Concepcion said.
Singkaban and balanghai
According to renowned multimedia visual artist and UP College of Fine Arts Professor Toym Imao, who conceptualized the program design: “Both singkaban and balanghai are fitting visual metaphors for a portal that welcomes and sends off our leaders in the UP community—our barangay.” Eight singkaban arches in the shape of the prow of the balanghai will represent the UP constituent universities. Singkaban refers to the folk bamboo welcome arch, and balanghai, to the Philippine ancient sea vessel. Singkaban art flourished in Bulacan, the home province of Concepcion. The best archaeological finds of the balanghai were discovered in Butuan, the home province of Jimenez.
The UP Symphony Orchestra (UPSO) Quartet and the UP ROTC Band provided music during the turnover ceremony. The UPSO also gave a concert the night before, February 9, at the UP Theater, to show their gratitude to outgoing UP President Concepcion and to welcome incoming UP President Jimenez. The concert, also titled “Singkaban at Balanghai: Pasasalamat at Pagsalubong, Musikang Alay ng Orkestra ng Bayan”, featured a repertoire consisting of favorite pieces of the two UP presidents, including Vincenzo Bellini’s Casta Diva, Giacomo Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro, Pietro Mascagni’s “Intermezzo” from Cavalleria Rusticana, “The Swan” from Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, Bernard Green’s Overture on Philippine Folk Songs, Chino Toledo’s arrangements of Mga Kantang Bisaya, Rosas Pandan, and Cebuano Love Songs, as well as Johannes Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and Lucio San Pedro’s Jubilate. The UPSO was joined by soprano Kay Balajadia-Liggayu, soprano Anya Evangelista, and tenor Malvin Macasaet.