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The last day of the symposium took off with very interesting talks.  The first is from a Fil-Am conservationist Dr. Almira Astudillo Giles, a writer and Research Associate of the Field Museum of Natural History.  Dr. Almira is working on a book entitled Hot Spot, Cool Country which is a treasure-trove of why and how the Philippines has come to be acknowledged by most ecologists as THE world’s top megadiversity country as well THE most threatened.  Rendered as a coffee-table book cum text book, Dr. Almira’s work is a must have for anyone working for and for the Philippine environment.

Next on the line up is the Executive Director of Mabuwaya Foundation, Dr. Merlijn van Weerd with his talk entitled “Loopholes in the Protected Area Governance and Environmental Impact System of the Philippines are a Threat to Biodiversity.”  Dr. Merlijn shocked us all with news from the field- that of a project by the Philippine government of building a national highway right through the heart of a national park in the Northern Sierra Madre mountain range.  Fortunately, the Secretary Neric Acosta, the Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection, was there and (apparently, he didn’t know about the project as well) mayhaps something good will come of it.

The keynote address for the last day was given by Dr. Ferry Slik, and Associate Professor and the Herbarium Curator of the Universiti Brunei Darussalam.  Dr. Ferry shared with us the amazing diversity of Asia’s forests (much much more than the famous Amazon or the Congo).  To learn more about his work, you may follow this link.  Our senior students rounded their collection of signatures and photos with Dr. Slik after his talk.  Ms. Kaji Salvador approached him first for this since her topic on ethnobotany of Tungtong River is closest to his work.

The day and symposium ended with the Closing Program cum Dinner where the BCSP directors recognized and awarded the various speakers and presenters.  Our HEDCen seniors got their fare share of the lime light (and lots of prizes to boot!).

The trip home was uneventful (and a bit sad) since we were leaving behind one of the more unforgettable experiences we’ve ever had.  This Symposium will surely have made a mark on our seniors’ consciousness as they pursue HEDCen’s mission-vision: that of becoming better people for a better Earth.  Kudos!

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