JR Escaño and ER Ponce Halls unveiled

To commemorate the contribution and legacy of the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) late directors Dr. Jeminiano R. Escaño and Dr. Eliseo R. Ponce, the first and fourth floors of the Research and Development Management Information Center (RDMIC) building was renamed to JR Escaño and ER Ponce Halls, respectively, during a simple ceremony on 25 January 2024.

 Witnessing this momentous occasion were the DA undersecretary for bureaus Dr. Mercedita A. Sombilla, DA-BAR management and staff led by director Junel B. Soriano, and the families of Dr. Escaño and Dr. Ponce.

 Jovita M. Escaño, wife of the late Dr. Escaño, shared a message of appreciation on behalf of her son Jeminiano R. Escaño Jr., “The dedication of the DA-BAR hall in my father’s name is a reminder that if we set aside all our differences and work together, we can achieve greater and better things for the good of the community and for the country.”

 Dr. Escaño, as his wife shared, was a staunch advocate for collective action and cooperation of communities as a means for progressive change provided that they are given opportunities for self development and improvement.

 “Our dad’s service to agricultural research at the DA-BAR was part of who he was. He carried you with him in his memories and in the stories he told. I’m sure my dad is greatly honored today by your memory of him, but more importantly by the outstanding work that you continued to do at the DA-BAR, ” said Atty. Lezyl B. Ponce, daughter of Dr. Ponce, as she expressed her family’s sincerest gratitude for this commemorative action.

 Dr. Escaño took the helm of DA-BAR from 1 August 1996 to 14 July 1997. He institutionalized the implementation of the Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) as one of the banner programs of the bureau for more than two decades. The aforesaid is an extension modality and an innovative approach to research and development (R&D) that focuses on the verification, demonstration, and adoption of agricultural technologies at the community level. Through CPAR, the operations of the different Regional Integrated Research Systems were strengthened.

 He also led the  administrative management coordination of the R&D components of the Gintong Ani food production and security program, which aimed to sustain increased food production through productivity-enhancing measures.

 Meanwhile, Dr. Ponce served as DA-BAR chief  from 1 July 1998 to 15 February 2003. He paved the way for the implementation of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act in the context of R&D; led the establishment and improvement of the National Research and Development System for Agriculture and Fisheries and the Agriculture and Fisheries R&D Information System which promoted inter-institutional collaboration through efficient and effective information flow and access; and established the Scientific Publication Grant System to support scientific and professional association and scientific fora for the publication of scientific journals, handbooks, books, and scientific proceedings.

 He also increased the visibility of the bureau in print media through the publication and distribution of BAR Chronicle and BAR R&D Digest, the bureau’s official newsletter and magazine that still stand to this day, as well as online through the launching of the BAR Online, the bureau’s official website.

 The RDMIC Building, where the bureau currently stands, was also constructed during his term. It was also during this period that  the Philippines, through DA-BAR, hosted the Annual General Meeting of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research on 28-31 October 2002. (### Rena S. Hermoso)