OF THE PHILIPPINES MINDANAO
AND HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
OF MINDANAO REGION
Dean, University of the Philippines Mindanao,
Davao City, Philippines
On 23 September, 1994, the University of the Philippines
President Emil Q. Javier called his Chancellors, Deans, and Directors
from the universitys six campuses to an important meeting in
the Board Room of the university in its campus in Diliman, Quezon
City. The university administration was to meet with a former instructor
in political science who is now a national figure. It was the first
appearance of this former faculty member after he left the academe
more than two decades ago to fight the government. He wedged a bloody
and clever war using guerilla tactics both in the deep forest in Western
Mindanao and the urban centers of Zamboanga and Cotabato, resulting
in deaths of thousands of Filipinos from both the rebel groups and
government side. This is not to mention countless innocent civilians
who were either caught in the cross fire or became victims of kidnapping
and terroristic acts which was part of the strategy of protracted
This extended war was very expensive for the government,
sucking-in scarce national funds to buy equipment, supplies, ammunitions
and maintain headquarters and battalions of enlisted men and officers.
Such huge expenses (reported to be about P1M a day) could have been
used to construct highways, farm to marker roads, ports, school buildings,
telecommunication facilities, markets, and other facilities to encourage
trade, commerce and the growth of industries.
This university visitor was Governor Nur Misuari.
He came barely two weeks after he was elected governor of the Autonomous
Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which is comprised of five Muslim
populated provinces of Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat,
and Lanao del Sur. A few days before he was elected governor, he signed
a peace agreement with the government of the Republic of the Philippines,
first in Jakarta, Indonesia, to end successfully two years of negotiation,
and finally in Malacaņang Palace with no less than President Fidel
V. Ramos signing the document.
I introduced this paper with a bit of contemporary
history to provide a backdrop of the role of the University of the
Philippines in general and its new campus in Mindanao in particular
which is situated in Davao City, less than one hour by Airbus from
our venue today.
In that meeting between university administrators
and Governor Misuari and his advisers, both the University President
and the Governor expressed the hope that with peace finally given
chance to root, Mindanao can look forward to a
planned development with Christians, Muslims, Lumads, and other Mindanaoans
harvesting and enjoying the fruits of progress and prosperity.
UP President Javier stressed in his talk that
education is the key to strategic solution to the problem of conflict
in Mindanao and the slow progress in the region. Owing to the armed
hostilities, disunity and mutual distrust between the government and
the various Muslim groups, it was difficult to concentrate on putting
in investments for building institutions of higher education and facilities
for research. Muslim parents would rather send their children to places
like Manila, Cebu, and even as far away as Egypt to obtain quality
education because of a limited number of curricula options and because
they wanted their children to be in an atmosphere where there is less
tension and conflict while studying.
Governor Misuari himself sustained President Javiers
view by saying that it is part of the teaching of Islam that knowledge
is a liberating force for human development and an effective agent
of change in society.
UP MINDANAO: UP SYSTEM RESPONSE
In that fateful meeting, President Javier pledged
to extend the vast intellectual and knowledge resources of the University
to bring to bear on the development of the region in a climate where
former rebels, government, and civilians who had been engaged in long
strife, hatred and disunity, will now have a singleness of purpose
- the development of the region. This must be done through assistance
in the training of local government leaders, technology transfer and
dissemination, institutional development, strengthening R&D capabilities,
helping in the conduct of plans and studies for development, and increasing
access to university education both at the undergraduate and graduate
The establishment of the sixth and youngest university
campus in the Mindanao Islands was justified on the basis of developing
a critical mass of human capital through high standard and affordable
higher education. As the oldest premier state university in the country
with the highest concentration of scholars and highly trained faculty
and intellectuals, UP is in the position to have a strong and influential
presence in Mindanao.
Currently, out of the total 40,000 students of
the University, only about 6.7 percent come from Mindanao. This is
clearly inequitable considering that a quarter of the countrys
citizens come from the region and the land area is one-third of the
national land area. Furthermore, Mindanao is supplying food requirements
of Luzon and the Visayas Islands and it produces the greatest bulk
of export in agriculture.
13 June, 1996, was a historic date for both UP
Mindanao and Mindanao. On this date, UP Mindanao, the newest addition
to the UP System opened its doors to 85 new freshmen, with only one
of them not coming from Mindanao and 77 graduate students. This is
just one of the first steps in fulfilling the UP Mindanao vision:
to help find and locate Mindanao in the nation and the nation
HISTORY, MISSION, AND VISION
The establishment of UP in Mindanao was the culmination
of a long-cherished dream. As early as the mid-50s, there were already
clamors for the UP presence in the region. Through the years, repeated
attempts were made to realize the dream. These were made possible
through the untiring efforts of concerned UP alumni, parents, and
political and civic leaders.
The UP in Mindanao will provide access to quality
education at affordable cost to students from Mindanao. Its presence
in the region will also emphasize its stature as the national university.
Its thrusts will be attuned to the needs of the countrys second
largest island (102,043 sq. km. or one third of the national land
area) with its vast resources and enormous growth potentials.
UP Mindanao was established on 20 February, 1995,
under Republic Act 7889. Its mission is to bring to the people of
Mindanao the UP standard of academic excellence and commitment to
academic freedom, social responsibility, and nationalism. It also
aims to assist Mindanao in becoming an educational, cultural, commercial,
and financial centre not only in the southern part of the country
but also in the East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA) by democratizing educational
opportunities and training the future professional and community leaders
of the region.
UP Mindanao is envisioned to grow into a comprehensive
university, a multi-functional institution of higher learning committed
to instruction, research, and extension. As provided by RA 7889, its
academic programmes shall put emphasis on science and technology,
the medical and health sciences, the agricultural education so that
it can assist the region in the improvement of the higher education
sector, as well as, in the more general process of industrialization
With UPs expertise and commitment to research,
it shall promote and strengthen research in the region as it is also
committed, through its extension programmes, to fully harness the
human and natural resources of Mindanao so that the latter can assume
a key role in the development not only of the country but of the entire
As a constituent campus of the national University
of the Philippines, UP Mindanao shall provide support to the national
educational system through complementation and collaboration with
the existing private and state-supported schools in the region.
UP Mindanaos presence in the higher education
sector of the region will be at three levels: model undergraduate
programmes catering to a small and selectively admitted student clientele
including those from the various Muslim and cultural communities;
innovative graduate programmes attuned to the needs of the region
using local expertise as well as those from other UP units; and short-term,
certificate, or diploma courses to quickly develop or upgrade competencies
and skills of professionals and education administrators in the region.
The decision to establish UP Mindanao was not
dictated by short run considerations. It was inspired by a vision
and conceived as far-ranging. Hence, the ultimate beneficiary for
the decision will not only be Mindanao but the whole country, for
Mindanao and the country are inseparable. As the UP Mindanao Task
Force in the Arts and Sciences wrote in their report: UP Mindanao
must help Mindanao in the first instance, but simultaneously and ultimately
for the whole nations advantage as well, to help find and locate
Mindanao in the nation and the nation in Mindanao.
Indeed, this realization by no less than the highest
leadership of this country, President Fidel V. Ramos, that Mindanao
could be the front, not backdoor of national development, became a
major impetus for the establishment of UP Mindanao. The neglect of
Mindanao in the past was a waste in opportunity and an example of
Locating Mindanao in the nation will
be realized only if Mindanao grows, reaches its potential, and become
a vast breadwinner for the country. This achievement, however, is
contingent on the development of the human resource. The human resource
is the greatest multiplier of all forms of resource.
A related issue is brain drain. Mindanaos
best and brightest youth prefer Manila and Cebu to further their studies
after high school and some after college. When these young people
go out, seldom do they come home, resulting in a net loss to the region
of the most precious resource. UP Mindanao hopes to mitigate this
situation by providing the course option, high standard, and affordable
quality education that is comparable with what can be found in Manila,
Los Banos, Cebu or overseas.
Mindanao also has a depressing R and D. I dont
have the exact figure of research and technology outputs of the island
but in a recent study, Mindanao 2000, one of the weaknesses
identified was poor R and D. With its research and development tradition
and commitment, UP Mindanao could help catalyze, strengthen, and generate
interest in research. It can also acquire much needed facilities and
infrastructure for research that can be shared with other researchers
from other institutions.
With the attention given to Mindanao by the national
government in terms of funds for infrastructure, campaign for investments,
incentives and assistance to the small-to-medium businessmen, the
opening of diplomatic and trade channels to a wider external market
(the BIMP-EAGA) which is altogether numbering around 40 million people,
with dynamic and responsive institutions of higher education and with
technology innovations generated by R and D institutions, Mindanao
will certainly be able to locate itself in the nation.
But this achievement will be meaningless if Mindanao
drifts away from the nation. Hence, UP Mindanao will be active in
integrating and fostering inter-dependence of the island with the
rest of the country -- economically, politically and culturally.
THE MINDANAO SITUATION
Mindanao is the second largest island in the Philippines.
Being outside of the typhoon belt, Mindanao enjoys a generally fair
and tropical climate throughout the year with abundance and well distributed
rainfall. Its generally fertile soil makes it suitable for a wide
variety of crops and livestock. In fact, it is the major source of
agri-based products such as fish, corn, banana, coconuts, and pineapple,
Mindanao can boast of the following formidable
assets and resources. First, its strategic location is close to the
booming market of the Asia-Pacific and the emerging growth polygon
of EAGA. Second, its 17 million people are of such cultural mix that
becomes its major strength as it provides trade opportunities with
the multi-cultural EAGA. These people are mostly migrants from Luzon
and Visayas who are descendants of pioneering generations. Industrious
and entrepreneurial, they are unspoiled by national subsidies and
support. Third, it is endowed with extensive metallic and non-metallic
mineral deposits with substantial gold and nickel reserves, and even
with the strong possibility of oil deposits. And fourth, its 6 million
hectare of forest land is the largest and richest forest resource
in the nation.
However, Mindanao has remained stagnant and underdeveloped
for a long time. The reason for this, according to the Mindanao 2000
report, is primarily due to the asymmetric Manila-centered development
plans of past governments that concentrated on Manila which made Mindanao
the food and raw material supplier to Manila and other urban centers
of the country. Added to this are the regional political divisions
which have further fragmented its development, the continuing conflicts
between Muslims and Christians and with other cultural minorities,
and the plantation enclaves and extractive industries which characterize
the agrarian structure of the island.
Mindanaos present economy is characterized
by dominance of agriculture, limited agri-industrial coupling, industries
that are natural-resource driven, a population that has low purchasing
power, industries that are foreign-dominated and export-oriented,
and dominance of a few landed families in each of the 23 provinces.
(Mindanao BIDS 2010, Mindanao 2000, OP Mindanao reports, MEDCO reports).
But with favorable winds of change coming from
the Ramos administration, the picture has changed. Mindanao is now
at the epicenter of change. Infrastructure development like roads
and other facilities are being undertaken at full blast as the economic
grouping of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines (the
BIMP) that created the East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA) has put Mindanao
clearly on the map. Moreover, the private sector is not left behind
but has taken several initiatives in hastening Mindanaos development.
As a new and dynamic area of economic growth premised
on common aspirations, ethnic commonalities, geographical proximity,
complementary strengths and collective growth potentials (Phil.
statement on BIMP-EAGA, 26 March 1994) it is steadfastly blossoming
into an East ASEAN Growth Polygon. The BIMP-EAGA concerns are: (1)
expansion of air linkages; (2) joint tourism development; (3) expansion
of services, and (4) the development of transport and shipping services.
Other projects being identified for immediate implementation focus
on: (1) people mobility; (2) environment; (3) energy; (4) construction
and construction materials; (5) telecommunications; (6) human resources
development; (7) agro-industry; (8) capital formation and financial
services; and (9) forestry.
In the year 2000, therefore, Mindanao sees itself
as a prosperous island with highly motivated, self-reliant,
culturally diverse but unified communities which are socio-economically
dynamic with ample and appropriate opportunities for self-fulfillment
within a framework of sustainable development and equitable growth
(Discover Mindanao brochure).
Nowhere in the Philippines is cultural plurality
more evident and pronounced than in Mindanao. With a rich cultural
heritage arising from ethnic pluralism that continually gives birth
to the dynamic process of acculturation, enculturation, assimilation,
and culture change, Mindanao looks ahead aware of its needs and resources
as well as global trends and developments and strives to become the
educational, cultural, commercial, and financial centre not
only of the southern part of the Philippines but also of the whole
ACADEMIC PROGRAMME OF UP MINDANAO
UP Mindanao now offers the following undergraduate
and graduate programmes: