Saturday, July 22, 2006

Liberato Vallejos Laureta: A Total Fisheries Scientist


Melchor F. Cichon
June 2005

At times success is not what we dreamed of.

He never dreamed of becoming a fisheries scientist. He wanted to become an accountant.

And so Dr. Liberato Vallejos Laureta became a fisheries scientist by accident.

Because of poverty, his father advised him to take up fisheries at the College of Fisheries, U.P. Diliman, principally because there was no tuition fees for fisheries students then.

But he never had loved fisheries even after he had finished his master’s in fisheries. He started to appreciate fisheries only after he got his Ph. D. and started to conduct a research where he was the project director.

After finishing elementary school at San Agustin Elementary School in Castillejos, Zambales in 1964, Jhon, as he is fondly called by his colleagues, proceeded to Zambales National Agricultural School for his secondary education.

Unknowingly, his mind was being led to fisheries. So when he graduated from high school he applied for a scholarship to the UP College of Fisheries in Diliman, Quezon City. And luckily, he passed it. Eventually, he became a Iskular ng Bayan.

He took a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries, majoring in Inland Fisheries and graduated in 1973. Immediately after graduation, he was hired as a Fish
Technician at the Eel Farm of Showa-United Food, Inc. in Mariveles, Bataan.

But he was not satisfied with his work. He wanted to expand his knowledge and skill, so he applied for a work at his Alma Mater, the UP College of Fisheries, now the UPV College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. He was taken in as a Research Assistant I at the Institute of Fisheries Development and Research, the research and extension arm of the UP College of Fisheries.

He must have been very efficient and effective researcher because he was always promoted. After a year of being a Research Assistant (RA) I, he was promoted to RA II. Then in 1978, he was again promoted to RA IV, and in 1982 he became a Research Associate IV. Then in 1986, he was promoted to Researcher II.

After coming home from his study leave for his doctorate degree, Jhon was reclassified into a faculty with a rank of Assistant Professor IV. Now he is Associate Professor III, a rank given to a faculty who has completed a lot of researches, undergone a series of extension and community services, and has published in international journals. Beside that, he must have won awards.

So what is his secret?

Higher education.

While he was going up the professional ladder, Jhon continued his studies, first by taking a master’s degree in aquaculture at the UP College of Fisheries, as a PCARRD Scholar. Being a dedicated student, he became a College Scholar, and finished the degree in 1982.

Not contented with it, he took a master degree in Business Administration at the Central Philippine University, in Jaro, Iloilo. But he just completed 30 units.

Then a great break came to him: He was given a scholarship through the UPV-World Bank Scholar Program of the University of the Philippines in the Visayas to take a doctorate degree in marine biology with a major in benthic ecology at the University of Liverpool, England. So when he came back to the Philippines with a PhD degree, he was reclassified from Researcher II to Assistant Professor IV.

To become a UP professor one has be good in the tripartite functions of the university: to teach, to conduct research, and to serve the community ins the form of extension and community service.

In all these functions, Jhon is on top.

As a faculty, Jhon often gets excellent remarks from his students both in the undergraduate and the graduate levels.

As a researcher, Jhon has conducted 13 researches, and has written scientific articles, some of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals. His current researches focus on angel wings, a bivalve that is becoming rare in Western Visayas.

Here are some of his unpublished researches.

Laureta, L., U. Focken and K. Becker. 2000. Growth and metabolic responses of milkfish fingerlings (Chanos chanos) fed with composed diets under controlled condition.

Laureta, L. and Marasigan, E. 1998. The ecology and reproductive biology of the angel wings, Phoilas orientalis. Project supported by the Fisheries Sector Program of the Department of Agrciulture.

Marasigan, E. and Laureta, L. 1998. Broodstock maintenance and induced spawning of Pholas orientalis. Project supported by the Fisheries Sector Program of the Department of Agriculture.

Laureta, L. and Santos-Garibay, S. 1998. The kapis industry of the Philippines with emphasis on its biology in Batan Bay, Aklan.

Laureta, I. V. The trophic dynamics of a benthic community off the west coast of the Isle of Man with particular reference to the ecological energies of Corbula gibba (Olivi). Ph.D. dissertation, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, England.

To date, June 2005, Jhon had published five scientific papers and a monograph. Three of these papers were published in peer-reviewed journals, two of which received awards.

Here are his published works:

Marasigan, E. T. and L. V. Laureta. 2001. Broodstock maintenance and early gonadal maturation of the angelwings, Pholas orientalis (Bivalvia: Pholadidae). Journal of Shellfish Research 20(3):1095-1099.

Laureta, L. V. and E. T. Marasigan. 2000. Habitat and reprodutctive biology of angelwings, Pholas orientalis (Gmelin). Journal of Shellfish Research 19(2):19-22.

Laureta, L. V. Catedrilla, L. and Cichon, M. eds. 1996. IA Research Abstracts: 1982-1994. Institute of Aquaculture, College of Fisheries, U.P. in the Visayas, Iloilo. 101p.

Laureta, L. V., Marasigan, A. N. and Melgar, R. 1992. (abstract). "A Study on the Reproduction and Spawning of Placuna sella." Proceedings of the Second National Symposium in Marine Science held at Mindanao State University, Tawi-Tawi, November 1992.

Taki, V., Saclauso, C. Laureta, L., Ohno, T., Kohno, Y. and Morioka, S. 1989. "Survival of milkfish fry on the surf zone." In: Proceedings of the Second Asian Fisheries Society Forum held in Tokyo, Japan, March 1989.

Carreon,, J., Laureta, L., Estocapio, F. and Abalos, T. 1984. Milkfish seedling survival in raceways of freshwater recirculating systems. Aquaculture 36:256-272.

Jhon has rendered extension and community services. On March 14 and 15, 2002, Jhon led the coastal assessment survey and evaluation of possible establishment of rehabilitation project for the diwal Pholas orientalis in Pontevedra, Negros Occidental. On October 3-4, 1999, he served as a resource evaluator during the ocular inspection and area assessment of Sigay shellfish in Sipalay, Negros Occidental under the support of UP Ugnayan Pahinungod and the Negros Occidental Provincial government.

But two of the most significant extension works Jhon has ever undertaken was when he served as program coordinator for the training of 18 Iranian aquaculturists on "shrimp Grow-Out management held at the Brackishwater Aquaculture Center, College of Fisheries, U.P. in the Visayas, Leganes, Iloilo on November 20, 1993 to January 17, 1994. The other one was when he served a program coordinator on the seminar workshop for the 156 fishpond owners and caretakers in Pangasinan on "culture of prawn, milkfish and groupers" held at the College of Fisheries, Pangasinan State University, Binmaley, Pangasinan on April 28-30, 1994.

When you are good enough, people cannot afford to ignore you, especially those people who are concern with the future of the industry.

As a scientist, Jhon is not just good enough, he is in fact one of the best young Filipino fisheries scientists today.

In recognition of his achievements, Dr. Laureta has received 12 awards and scholarship grants from 1979 to 2003. The most recent of which was the DOST-Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Core University Exchange research Scientist to conduct research visit in Japan (September 1-20, 2002). On February 28, 2001, he was a recipient of the International Publication Award in 2000 by the University of the Philippines handed to him by the President of the University of the Philippines. In 1999, Dr. Laureta won the Best Unpublished Research Paper by the Bureau of Agricultural Research, Department of Agriculture. Before this, he also received the Dr. Elvira O. Tan Memorial Award for Best Published Research Paper in Aquaculture. The award was given by PCMARD.

When a faculty is endowed with extraordinary talents, his dean expects so much from that person. And Dr. Laureta was given additional works.

From 2000 to 2005, Dr. Laureta was the Station Head of the Brackishwater Aquaculture Center, Institute of Aquaculture, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, U.P. in the Visayas, Leganes, Iloilo.

In September 2001, Dr. Laureta was the Co-Chair of the Committee that conceptualized and formulated training or extension program for the Institute of Aquaculture. On the same year, he was a member of the Committee on CFOS Curriculum Review.

Looking back, Jhon has not regretted for having studied fisheries despite his being away from his hometown. His longing to his parents and brothers and sisters are being filled up by the presence of his loving and supportive wife, the former Ms. Elma Mogote Maca and their two children, Elmer and Michael Jun.