The Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS) of the UP Open University (UPOU), in partnership with the Edu-Connect Southeast Asia Association – Taiwan launched the Project LAKBAY: Learning Actively through Knowledge-Based Appreciation for Youth, a Youth Cultural and Learning Immersion Camp. The Project LAKBAY was a hybrid event, with the first part conducted online through the UPOU Canvas from 28 to 30 June 2023, and the immersion camp facilitated in person from 4 to 14 July 2023 at UPOU Headquarters, Los Banos, Laguna. The Project LAKBAY was participated in by a total of 36 LAKBAY fellows – 24 Taiwanese participants from different universities in Taiwan, 17 Filipino participants from Kaya Natin! Youth – Los Baños (KNY-LB), and seven members of the University of the Philippines Open University Student Council (UPOU-USC).

The Project LAKBAY was initially conceptualized in a meeting attended by the former Chancellor of UPOU and Professor Emeritus Grace Javier Alfonso, University of the Philippines Visiting Professor Dr. Eing-Ming Wu, Chancellor Melinda dela Pena Bandalaria, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Primo Garcia, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Jean Saludadez, FMDS Dean Joane Serrano and Human Resource Development Officer Michael Lagaya. Dean Serrano then conceptualized Project Lakbay by focusing on the interconnections between multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through learning visits to various institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG), and UP Resilience Institute (UPRI); understanding local challenges through hands-on and social learning visits in local communities such as the woodcarving communities of Paete, Laguna, the embroidery communities of Lumban, Laguna, the trolley community of Brgy. San Antonio and the Gawad Kalinga community, both located at Los Baños, Laguna; fostering collaborations and embodying the Bayanihan culture of the Filipino people; and developing context-specific solutions to aid their respective communities through their active participation in various workshops, group activities, and seminars conducted at Centennial Center for Digital Learning (CCDL), UPOU Headquarters, Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines.

DAY 1: Arrival at the Philippines, Learning Visit at Asian Development Bank (ADB)

The learning activities for Project LAKBAY couldn’t wait as upon arrival to the Philippines the Taiwanese LAKBAY fellows are already set for their first learning visit at ADB.

4 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY’s Learning Visit at Asian Development Bank with Taiwanese LAKBAY fellows.

Project LAKBAY’s learning visits aim to improve the knowledge and widen the perspectives of the LAKBAY fellows about the various contributions of different institutions to the development of a country and the world. Through this, they get to be deeply involved and socially aware of the needs of different industries or communities and how one sector can help promote social development and facilitate innovation. 

During their learning visit at ADB, they had the opportunity to see the diverse ecosystem of ADB’s workplace and understand the history and foundation of the company, as well as their role in assisting the Philippine Government to address poverty, inequality, advancing climate change initiatives, and enhance the sustainability programs of the country, including their goal to promote social and economic development across Asia. 

Dr. Eing-Ming Wu, a facilitator from Edu-connect Southeast Asia Association, along with FMDS Staff and LAKBAY facilitators, Ms. Janele Ann Belegal, Mr. Ristian Aldrin Calderon, Ms. Camille Hemedes, and Ms. Sydney Rovin Macahiya were also present during the learning visit at ADB.

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Written by Ristian Aldrin C. Calderon

Edited by Larry N. Cruz

DAY 2: English Language Program, Brown Bag Session, Ceremonial Program

The LAKBAY fellows’ first activity, the morning Brown Bag Session was highlighted by games such as self-Introduction through “2 Truths and A Lie”; practicing the English language through a modified game of Pass The Message; and “4 Pics 1 Word” with answers containing the basic concepts that they will face in the following days of the camp.

5 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows along with FMDS faculty and staff and Dr. Eing Ming Wu at CCDL, UPOU for the Ceremonial Program of Project LAKBAY.

The Brown Bag Session served as a way to help generate interaction among all LAKBAY fellows with a unique way of introducing themselves to everyone and a different approach to learning and application of the English language through the use of games. 

This activity was followed by a film showing of Avatar: The Way of Water, where the LAKBAY fellows engaged in a discussion among themselves about the relevance or connection of the movie to real-life scenarios and climate change adaptations. This was beneficial to their learning process as the encouraged interaction sessions or socials of project LAKBAY provided the LAKBAY fellows the ability to practice their English speaking skills with one another and absorb different views and opinions based on divergent cultures or ways of life. 

For the afternoon session, Project LAKBAY was officially launched as the Ceremonial Program commenced. UPOU Chancellor,  Dr. Melinda dP. Bandalaria, Project Head and Dean of FMDS, Dr. Joane V. Serrano,  and Dr. Eing-Ming Wu welcomed the LAKBAY fellows and talked about the relevance of project LAKBAY, as well as how it can contribute to their personal and professional development. 

UPOU Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, Dr. Jean A. Saludadez capped off the day in her closing message encouraging the LAKBAY fellows to enjoy and learn more about the English language and Philippine culture while participating in the youth cultural and learning immersion camp.

DAY 3: Roundtable Discussion, Leadership Development Workshop, Walking Workshop at Perma G.A.R.D.E.N.

With the recent launch of the FMDS’ first undergraduate program, the Associate of Arts in Digital Entrepreneurship (AADE) Program, a roundtable discussion (RTD) was held on the third day of Project LAKBAY. The RTD, entitled “Digital Technology Entrepreneurship: Trends, Innovations, and Opportunities for Collaboration” was attended by more than 50 participants, including the LAKBAY fellows at CCDL, UPOU.

6 July 2023 – RTD participants with Former Senator Paulo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV

The RTD invited esteemed resource speakers and discussants such as Asst. Prof. Tricia C. Ascan (UPOU FMDS), Former Senator Bam Aquino, Dr. Eing-Ming Wu (Edu-Connect), Engr. Leo de Velez (Frontlearners Inc.), Ms. Nicole Paterno (Villgro Philippines), Ms. Karla Legaspi (QBO Innovation Hub), Ms. Alwyn Joy Rosel (QBO Innovation Hub), and Mr. Emilio Climaco (CHEFerd’s Farm). Read more about the event here.

6 July 2023 – (From left to right) Asst. Prof. Ari Luis Halos, Ms. Alwyn Rosel, Ms. Karla Legaspi, Ms. Nicole Paterno, Engr. Leo de Velez, and Mr. Emilio Climaco during the RTD.

Throughout the course of the entire immersion camp, LAKBAY facilitators prepared various workshops to improve the LAKBAY fellows’ critical and creative thinking, communication skills, and ability to collaborate with others.

6 July 2023 – Dr. Maria Lourdes Jarabe in her talk about Basic Gender Concepts, Asst. Prof. Lianne Angelico Depante in his talk about Incredible Leadership, and Asst.Prof. Lloyd Lyndel Simporios in his talk about Self-Awareness.

In addition to their Leadership Development workshops, Dr. Maria Lourdes Jarabe, Asst.Prof. Lloyd Lyndel Simporios, and Asst.Prof. Lianne Angelico Depante also managed to facilitate a team-building exercise that aims to improve the Lakbay fellows’ communication skills in English and awareness of concepts related to gender and equality.

6 July 2023 – Dr. Jabez Joshua Flores and Dr. Finaflor Taylan Facilitating the Walking Workshop at Perma G.A.R.D.E.N.

Dr. Jabez Joshua Flores (FMDS Senior Lecturer), Dr. Finaflor Taylan (UPOU OGC Director), and Ms. Mary Jane Reondanga (FMDS Staff) facilitated the walking workshop at Perma G.A.R.D.E.N. (Growing Appreciation toward Resilience, Development, Entrepreneurship, and Nutrition) and highlighted that having a sustainable community or home gardens can increase the availability and access to fresh, healthy, and diverse food for low-income households. It also potentially improves dietary quality by encouraging the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

6 July 2023 – Taiwanese LAKBAY fellow, Feng-Ting, Ma interacts with Ms. Mary Jane Reondanga during the Walking Workshop at Perma G.A.R.D.E.N.

The FMDS Perma G.A.R.D.E.N. is an initiative of FMDS in support of sustainable production and consumption, and in contributing to SDG 2: Zero Hunger.

6 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows line up to get their serving of Sorbetes, a Filipino street ice cream

As the LAKBAY fellows started their Walking Workshop at Perma G.A.R.D.E.N., they were greeted by the LAKBAY facilitators with two of the famous Filipino refreshments, the Sorbetes and Taho.

6 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows line up to get their serving of Taho, a famous Filipino refreshment

Sorbetes and Taho are relevant elements to the Philippine cultural identity as they contributed to the childhood of almost every Filipino. From the bell call of Mamang Sorbetero in the afternoon and the distinct shouting of the word, “Taho!” by the Magtataho, once Filipinos hear it and we already know exactly what it is.

DAY 4: Learning Visit at Los Baños Municipal Wet Market and Park, Hands-on Learning at Paete and Lumban, Recreational Activities at Pila and Isdaan, Calauan, Laguna

7 July 2023 – UP ECOSS facilitating the learning visit at Los Baños Municipal Wet Market

The sun has barely risen as the eager participants of Project LAKBAY embarked on the fourth day of their immersive journey. The activities for the day promised to be both enlightening and enriching, as they set out to discover the vibrance of Los Baños through an insightful visit to the Municipal Wet Market and Park, the bustling epicenter of commerce and social life. FMDS teamed up with the University of the Philippines Los Baños’ (UPLB) esteemed socio-civic organization, UP Ecology and Systematics Major Students Society (UP ECOSS). The fellows gained invaluable insights into the municipality’s local culture and its flourishing aquaculture industry and the relevance of SDG 14: Life Below Water to Los Banos’ economic growth.

7 July 2023 – Taiwanese LAKBAY fellows, Ms. Han-Yun, Li and Mr. Ryan Tang line up to get their fresh Buko Juice at Pamilihang Bayan ng Los Baños.

Being immersed in a setting that is not set up for their comfort and seeing the on-site environment of a Pamilihang Bayan creates a more hands-on appreciation for the LAKBAY fellows to small and local business owners as they get to have an authentic experience with the entrepreneurs.

7 July 2023 – Live demonstration of wood carving at Paete, Laguna

The heart of LAKBAY lies in witnessing local artists’ mastery firsthand. On their visit to Paete, Laguna, known as the carving capital of the Philippines, the fellows marveled at live demonstrations, unveiling the deep cultural heritage behind woodcarving. Beyond observation, they were able to directly engage with artisans, carving wood to assist in the creation of the ongoing art under expert guidance.

7 July 2023 – Taiwanese LAKBAY fellows, Emily (left) and Jack Chang (right) test their skills using the Paet or chisel to carve wood

Hands-on learning allows the fellows to build a personal connection between themselves and the community they encounter.

Through hands-on learning, LAKBAY fosters personal connections and supports local businesses. It goes beyond traditional education, igniting the fellows’ empathy and understanding. These learning visits and workshops are an effective way of communicating knowledge and information. Learning by doing offers a more personal approach and a deeper sense of connection to the community.

7 July 2023 – Live demonstration of free hand embroidery at Lumban Laguna

The LAKBAY fellows were also charmed by the elegance of the products of Lumban, Laguna, the embroidery capital of the Philippines. Here, they had the privilege of meeting the skilled artisans behind the exquisite Philippine national costumes, the Barong Tagalog and Baro’t Saya.

7 July 2023 – Taiwanese LAKBAY fellows, Mr. Bing-Heng, Lee (left) and Ms. Chih-Hsin, Liao (right) try on the Philippine National Costume, Barong Tagalog (left) and Baro’t Saya (right)

With hearts full of excitement and respect for the local culture, the Taiwanese LAKBAY fellows joyfully tried on the magnificent Philippine national costumes, immersing themselves in the country’s vibrant heritage and traditions. It was a moment of cultural exchange and unity between our two nations.

7 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows and Camp Facilitators gather in front of San Antonio de Padua Parish Church

After an enriching day of learning and cultural immersion, the LAKBAY fellows ventured to Pila, Laguna, where they visited San Antonio de Padua Parish Church and saw the beauty of the community through the awe-inspiring ancestral houses, each carrying stories dating back to the Spanish period.

7 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows and Camp Facilitators gather in front of the Taksyapo Area in Isdaan, Calauan, Laguna

But the excitement did not end there– the LAKBAY fellows then headed to Isdaan, a charming Filipino traditional restaurant located in Calauan, Laguna. Here, they embraced a beloved Filipino stress-relieving activity – Taksyapo!, a uniquely Kapampangan word which means “Bwisit!“. It was a moment of fun and laughter as they released their frustrations by smashing common household materials and even furniture. A perfect way to end a day filled with cultural and artistic knowledge, patronizing local products, and experiencing Philippine tradition. 

From cultural treasures to thrilling experiences, this day brought the LAKBAY fellows even closer to the heart and soul of Philippine culture.

DAY 5: Design Thinking Workshop, Art Workshop, Mindful Walk

8 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows and Camp Facilitators together with Dr. Diego Maranan show off their outputs for the Design Thinking Workshop

Dr. Diego Maranan, Dean of the Faculty of Information and Communication Studies, led the productive and stimulating Design Thinking Workshop where the LAKBAY fellows were able to learn more about the design process by doing hands-on activities.

8 July 2023 – Dr. Diego Maranan facilitating the Design Thinking Workshop at CCDL.

The design thinking workshop is a platform for LAKBAY fellows to create a design with fewer lectures. Designing without being subjected to any form of critique helps the mind to freely contemplate and discover new ideas resulting in the participants of the workshop personally improving their work based on their own assessment of needs.

8 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows show off their Eco-Artwork with Ms. Isis Ingrid Liwanag.

Los Baños-based writer and multimedia artist, Ms. Isis Ingrid Liwanag, facilitated the art workshop for the afternoon session, where LAKBAY fellows were tasked to create an artwork that they think could be a solution to a local problem based on their past visits to different communities and incorporate recycled materials into their output.

8 July 2023 – Art Workshop Facilitator, Ms. Isis Ingrid Liwanag interacts with Project LAKBAY fellows.

They used recycled materials and random things found inside the UPOU Headquarters to create an artwork that holds meaning and their group’s personal interpretations of a solution to a local problem. This serves as a prime example of what Project LAKBAY aims to accomplish during workshops – for the participants to have mastery in complex problem-solving, critical and creative thinking, communication skills, and the ability to collaborate with others. All were seen in action when the LAKBAY fellows gathered together and presented what their artworks mean.

8 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows during their Mindful Walk around UPOU Headquarters

Through Mindful Walk activities, the LAKBAY fellows get to reflect on the knowledge they now possess which they can utilize in the future for the benefit of the community and themselves.

DAY 6: Action Learning at Brgy. San Antonio, Los Baños, Laguna Trolley Community, Social Learning at Gawad Kalinga, Physical Activities and Garbage Picking at UP Los Baños

9 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows and Camp Facilitators, together with Brgy. San Antonio Trolley Drivers in front of the railroad tracks at IRRI.

The sixth day of Project LAKBAY brought an eccentric and heartwarming action learning experience as the LAKBAY fellows embarked on a journey from Brgy. San Antonio. They rode aboard the unique trolleys of the barangay to experience the local transportation that the railroad communities use. The fellows went straight to Gawad Kalinga, on board a well-loved Philippine transportation icon, the jeepney.

Action learning, as part of the learning experience of our LAKBAY fellows, provides an avenue for them to discuss issues and possible root causes of a problem within a community through interaction with community members knowledgeable and are experiencing these problems firsthand. It is a more critical approach to hands-on learning as they get to think more about how to provide solutions and strive to do more as they take action and provide possible solutions to address some of the concerns within the community.

9 July 2023 – Asst. Prof. Lloyd Lyndel Simporios assisting LAKBAY fellows during their interaction with the Brgy. San Antonio Trolley Drivers

Armed with enthusiasm and curiosity, the Taiwanese LAKBAY fellows joined hands with the 16 skilled trolley operators as they traversed the way along the railroad community of Brgy. San Antonio. Trolleys are manually operated carts made of wood, commonly used for transporting passengers from the railroad communities. The interaction was wrapped up with a beautiful exchange of stories and experiences highlighting the connection across borders. 

9 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows riding a Trolley at Brgy. San Antonio Trolley Station

As they continued their journey of service to the community, the spirit of camaraderie and unity flourished, leaving a lasting impact and unique experience on both the riders and the LAKBAY fellows.

9 July 2023 – Dr. Reynaldo Dela Cruz delivered a talk about the foundation of Gawad Kalinga and the concept of Bayanihan

Onto the next site for the Social Learning experience, our LAKBAY fellows were warmly welcomed by community members of Gawad Kalinga led by Dr. Reynaldo Dela Cruz, retired UPLB Professor and Project Director of Gawad Kalinga Los Banos (GK LB) Ville. 

Dr. Dela Cruz highlighted that Gawad Kalinga is a Philippine-based movement that aims to end poverty by providing two of the essential things we need in order to live – shelter and community. He also emphasized the significance of the Bayanihan spirit to the foundation of Gawad Kalinga and its relevance to the Filipino identity.  

Social learning promotes improved behavior and widened perspectives for the LAKBAY fellows which became visible as their visit to communities such as GK LB Ville contributed to the development of their character and appreciation for the resources they have access to.

9 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows facilitating a Book Reading Session for the children of Gawad Kalinga LB Ville.

The LAKBAY fellows also facilitated two simultaneous activities for the children of GK LB Ville, A drawing and coloring activity and a book reading session about climate change awareness.

9 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows facilitating a drawing and coloring activity for the children of Gawad Kalinga LB Ville.

By allowing the LAKBAY fellows an opportunity to facilitate their own workshops, they were given the platform to apply what they have learned since day one. Now, armed with a much more open mind and hunger for social change and community service. Through this, they get to see the difference between their first day as fellows and their current performance on their path to becoming leaders.

9 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows enjoy their Sunday afternoon’s physical activities at UPLB Freedom Park.

Afternoon physical activities such as volleyball, frisbee, dodgeball, and badminton at UPLB freedom park are the perfect way to end the Sunday activities of Project LAKBAY.

9 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows and Project Head, Dr. Joane Serrano initiates a Garbage Picking Activity at UPLB Freedom Park

Before settling in after the physical activities, LAKBAY fellows and camp facilitators split into teams to pick up garbage around freedom park as responsible fellows and Earth ambassadors. All throughout the camp, the clean-as-you-go method and zero-waste initiatives were practiced at all venues visited.

DAY 7: Learning Visit at International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), and Makiling Botanical Gardens (MBG)

10 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows and Camp Facilitators together with Mr. Francis Rubianes, Assistant Scientist from IRRI.

The seventh day of project LAKBAY is packed with learning visits to various institutions around UPLB. LAKBAY fellows learned more about the international initiatives on poverty alleviation with a focus on food security during their visit to IRRI.

10 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows and Camp Facilitators together with the Executive Committee of SEARCA.

In SEARCA, LAKBAY fellows were encouraged to participate in various movements that lead to innovations and development in the agricultural sector, ACB and Makiling Botanical Gardens emphasized the importance of preserving biodiversity for its relevance to SDG 15: Life on Land.

10 July 2023 – Ms. Kathleen Claire Cuaresma, a Filipino LAKBAY fellow from Edu-Connect Southeast Asia Association, during ACB’s Q&A Activity.

Learning about the role of every single living organism thriving on this planet and the importance of even the smallest species in the ecosystem to intensify the need for biodiversity conservation is one of the highlights of the learning visit at ACB.

10 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows and Camp Facilitators together with the Staff of MBG

Their guided tour at the (MBG) is a striking experience as immediately after being informed about the importance of biodiversity at ACB, they were able to see conservation live in action and the different plant species endemic to the Philippines.

DAY 8: Historical Site Visit at Museo ni Jose Rizal, Spiritual Exercises and Lettuce Planting at SVD Laudato Si’ Farm, Recreational Activities at Picnic Grove, Tagaytay

11 July 2023 – Camp facilitator, Ms. Janele Ann Belegal provides Taiwanese LAKBAY fellows information and insights on Rizal’s life and works at Museo ni Jose Rizal, Calamba, Laguna

The historical site visit to the home of the country’s national hero, Jose Rizal was one of the highlights of Project LAKBAY as the LAKBAY fellows got to peak inside Rizal’s childhood home and learned about the stories Rizal’s mother used to tell him as a kid, see the things they used during their time, his life’s works and accomplishments and its significance to the Philippine literature.

Historical site visits aim to connect the LAKBAY fellows with the history of the Philippines. Learning about significant events that led to achieving peace provides motivation and a basis for how to become an effective activist for social development or in any field they are interested in.

11 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows carrying seed trays for the Lettuce Planting Activity at SVD Laudato Si’ Farm.

A well-deserved recreation trip at Tagaytay is a welcome treat as they have been out in the summer heat of the Philippines since their arrival.

They also visited SVD Laudato Si’ Farm for some spiritual exercises amidst the beautiful farm and facilities and participated in the farm’s lettuce planting activity.

Spiritual exercises allow LAKBAY fellows to explore different beliefs and practices of other cultures. It’s not a way to encourage others to band together but a way to keep an open mind and see things through the eyes of others. 

11 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows and Camp Facilitators at Picnic Grove, Tagaytay for their Recreational Activities.

Recreational activities are reminders that you can still immerse yourself in the culture and local communities while still being able to have fun and try out different activities outside your comfort zone.

11 July 2023 – Taiwanese LAKBAY fellow, Mr. Ryan Tang riding a zipline overlooking the Taal Volcano.

One of the activities the LAKBAY fellows took part in was the zipline at Picnic Grove. It was an exhilarating experience accompanied by awe as they rode through the view of the Taal Volcano.

11 July 2023 – Taiwanese LAKBAY fellows, Ms. Liao, Chih-Hsin (Avery) and Mr. Oscar enjoying their zipline ride at Picnic Grove, Tagaytay.

11 July 2023 – Taiwanese LAKBAY fellow, Ms. Saday going through Local and Traditional Filipino Products at Picnic Grove, Tagaytay.

While at the Picnic Grove, LAKBAY fellows were still able to engage with locals as they rummaged through local products of Tagaytay.

DAY 9: Fiesta sa UPOU, Farewell Program

12 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows with their Cultural Performances during Fiesta sa UPOU at CCDL.

As the sun set on the LAKBAY fellows’ remarkable journey at UPOU, the spirit of camaraderie and cultural exchange soared to new heights during a grand, vibrant Fiesta at UPOU. Immersed in the rich tapestry of Filipino traditions, the Fellows were delighted to participate in an array of heartwarming activities, including the spirited Calamansi Relay, the cheer-inducing Hep Hep Hooray, the exhilarating Pabitin, the joyous Pukpok Palayok, and the delightful Polvoron Challenge. Laughter echoed, friendships deepened, and cherished memories were etched into their hearts as they bid farewell to an unforgettable chapter of their LAKBAY adventure.

12 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows test their focus in a game of Hep Hep, Hooray!

The Fiesta became a testament to the power of unity and the beauty of shared experiences, forever strengthening the bonds between the cultures of Taiwan and the Philippines.

12 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows enjoy a nice game of Pabitin, a Filipino Game. 

As part of the culmination activities for Project LAKBAY, the Taiwanese LAKBAY fellows took the spotlight as they shared their insights, experiences, and future plans as LAKBAY fellows. From start-up companies to research involving trains and bees, the Taiwanese LAKBAY fellows proved that being a LAKBAY fellow is a lifelong commitment for them.

12 July 2023 – Filipino LAKBAY fellows, Mr. Mac Arthur Acuña (left) and Mr. Allen Canimo (right) saying their farewell messages and singing the song “Farewell” by Raymond Lauchengco to the Taiwanese LAKBAY fellows. 

As the farewell approached, the air was filled with a mixture of emotions. With eyes shimmering with memories, the LAKBAY fellows bid farewell through heartfelt messages to each other, vowing to carry the spirit of LAKBAY within them as forever ambassadors of cultural understanding, sustainable development, and social change.

12 July 2023 – Taiwanese LAKBAY fellows, Ms. Han-Yun, Li and Mr. Ryan Tang saying their farewell messages to the Filipino LAKBAY fellows.

Before the day ends, the fellows were invited to write on the freedom wall as a sign of their commitment to embracing the characteristics of being a LAKBAY fellow. The freedom wall, once a blank canvas, now overflowed with colorful expressions of gratitude, love, and hope, serving as a testament to the indelible mark the participants left on each other’s lives, gaining friends 90 minutes away from home.

12 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY Freedom Wall with writing, “TW loves PH”

This remarkable LAKBAY Farewell will forever hold a special place in our hearts, reminding us that despite our diverse backgrounds, we are all united under the banner of humanity.

DAY 10: Learning Visit at UPRI, NCPAG, and Vargas Museum

Despite the broadcast of extreme weather conditions and traffic, the participants of the LAKBAY project take off to their final destination, the UP Diliman Campus. Hailing from UP Open University headquarters, the LAKBAY fellows set out to explore the reputable offices in Diliman that have great contributions to the University of the Philippines.

13 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows and Camp Facilitators, together with UPRI Staff Members at UPRI, UP Diliman.

Their learning activities began at UP Resilience Institute (UPRI) which is the home of the known Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) project. They were warmly welcomed by the Executive Director of UPRI, Prof. Alfredo Mahar Lagmay, Ph.D. The team behind the project NOAH delved into the details of the project from planning up to its development. The LAKBAY fellows also had the opportunity to witness resources and cutting-edge technologies employed in the project’s operations.  

After their enlightening visit to UPRI, the Taiwanese participants continued their journey to the National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) in which Dr. Eing Ming Wu serves as a visiting professor. Here, they were able to learn about the rich history of the country’s leading academic institution in providing instruction, research, and extension services in public administration and public policy.

13 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows, Camp Facilitators, and NCPAG Staff Members at NCPAG, UP Diliman.

The fellows enjoyed their visit as they engaged in a thought-provoking game called the “Polak” game or “Where do I stand?” game. After explaining the mechanics, the facilitator of the game started mentioning some timely topics of discussion and let the participants choose their stand– ”optimistic” or pessimistic”. The fellows explored timely topics and shared their perspectives, fostering a fruitful discussion. As they ended their learning visit there, the Dean of NCPAG Assoc. Prof. Kristoffer B. Berse, Ph.D. gave his final message to the participants and had a photo opportunity with them. 

Enriched with knowledge and culture, the LAKBAY fellows then ventured into the Vargas Museum. Named after Jorge B. Vargas, the country’s first executive secretary, the museum was filled with his donated pieces.

13 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows’ Curated Tour at Vargas Museum

The Jorge B. Vargas Art Collection consists of works by late 19th-century artists such as Lorenzo Guerrero, Simon Flores, Juan Luna, and Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo and from the 1930s and 1940s, most notably by Fabian de la Rosa and Fernando Amorsolo. There are also artworks by Jorge Pineda, Vicente Rivera y Mir, and other artists who were referred to as belonging to the “Amorsolo School.” The collection also includes modernist works such as those of Victorio Edades, Juan Arellano, Diosdado Lorenzo, and Vicente Manansala along with contemporaries who were active in the 1950s. The LAKBAY fellows were amazed as they learned about the historical narratives behind these artistic gems and they did not even miss the chance to capture photos of the curated artworks.

13 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows and Camp Facilitators at Quezon Hall, UP Diliman

Drawing closer to the final schedule of the entire youth cultural and immersion camp, LAKBAY fellows gather at Quezon Hall, UP Diliman to prepare for the meeting with the President of the University of the Philippines, Atty. Angelo A. Jimenez.

Project LAKBAY’s Meeting with UP President, Atty. Angelo A. Jimenez at UP Diliman

13 July 2023 – Taiwanese LAKBAY fellow, Jack Chang, shaking hands with UP President, Atty. Angelo A. Jimenez.

A true highlight awaited the LAKBAY fellows as they had the privilege of meeting the esteemed UP President.  Despite his busy schedule, President Jimenez engaged the students in a fruitful discussion about their experiences with the different communities they have visited for the past 10 days and their research ideas.

13 July 2023 – Project LAKBAY fellows’ meeting with UP President, Atty. Angelo A. Jimenez.

Seeing how interested and engaged President Jimenez was during the meeting, LAKBAY fellows are confident to have left a lasting impression with their expression of passion and Bayanihan spirit. He also expressed his keen interest in future collaborations and research partnerships with them.

Project LAKBAY fellows and Camp Facilitators Chanting, “Project LAKBAY 2023, Mabuhay!”

As Project LAKBAY concluded its remarkable journey in the three campuses of the University of the Philippines – UP Open University, UP Los Baños, and UP Diliman, it surely left an impact and an unforgettable impression on the hearts and minds of all the LAKBAY fellows.

Taiwanese LAKBAY fellows imitate the pose of the Famous UP Symbol, The Oblation Statue.

With the success of this immersive journey of academic and cultural exploration, the organizers of this event are optimistic that this will create avenues and opportunities for more students, scholars, and other academic institutions in establishing rapport in the pursuit of greater heights of knowledge and understanding.